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Sand-laden Manure Handling Options

The Cattle Site, July 13 2012

Sand bedding is very popular with many dairy producers until it comes to handling sand-laden manure. While sand is very comfortable for cows to lie on in well designed and managed freestalls, sand-laden manure is difficult to handle and abrasive to concrete and manure handling equipment including skid steer loaders, pumps and manure spreaders.
Dairy producers planning to use sand bedding can consider several options for handling sand-laden manure.
The system must be economical to build and operate. Dairy producers need to plan for handling manure in very cold weather when it can freeze in freestall barns and storage units.
Manure handling systems include collection from manure alleys and holding areas, transport to treatment and/or storage, manure storage and land application to recycle the manure nutrients. Sand systems may include sand-manure separation so that some sand can be reused for bedding.
Since the mid 90’s other options for handling sand-laden manure have been developed including weeping walls, mechanical separators and sand lanes. Dairy producers using mechanical separators or sand lanes can reuse the separated sand for bedding.