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They Use Manure To Bed Their Cows

“Most people not familiar with livestock just shake their heads in amazement when they learn that we’re using compost made from manure for bedding our dairy cattle,” says Brad Vold, one of the family members operating Dorrich Dairy in Glenwood, Minn. The bedding concept is popular in Europe, but there are only a few dairies using it in the U.S.   
  A large rotating drum about 6 ft. in diameter and about 32 ft. long has a hopper at one end to receive material, and a conveyor at the opposite end to remove it. Manure, plus feed that’s refused by cattle, is mixed together in the composter to provide the finished product. The Dorrich operation had their system installed in September, 2016 in a large bay of their barn that used to hold their cattle bedding. After 6 mos. the system is working well and is mostly a “hands off” operation.
  Vold says their system is different than a digester because manure is separated before it enters the composting drum. Theirs is an aerobic system that isn’t sealed. After separation the solids are conveyed to the drum, along with small amounts of refused feed that their cattle don’t eat. A batch of product remains in the composter about 25 hrs. and heats to about 130 to 150 degrees. Material leaves the drum at about 64 to 66 percent moisture and is piled at one end of the barn. The Volds bed their cattle 6 days a week and say the livestock are extremely comfortable, even in cold weather.
  Before installing their own composter the Volds used to purchase about 80 semi-loads of digested manure solids annually from a large nearby dairy. When that supply line dried up after 8 years, the Volds had just 7 months to come up with an alternate plan. “We looked at straw, sand, shavings and green solids, but we would’ve had to change our manure system and the costs were too much for our operation,” Vold says. “Installing our own composting system worked from the economic standpoint, so that’s the route we chose.” The system is on a 10-year payback, and Vold says after 6 months everything is on track.
  Output is about 60 tons a week, which is almost twice as much product as they need. Excess material is sold for $200 a semi load, which, even after the $1,000 in electric charges needed to run the machine are considered, allows the operation to earn about $800 a month. The composter runs automatically with monitors to assure constant operation. If there’s a problem, Vold says they can access the system controls through a cell phone application and correct it.
  The composter has provided other benefits besides economics and the ability to produce their own bedding. Bacteria count in their bedding is down, which has kept their somatic cell count in a very favorable range of 150,000. They’ve lowered their use of fresh water, which means their lagoon isn’t filling quite as fast as it used to. Vold says water savings may add up to 1 million gallons a year. The extra manure storage space will allow for an additional 25 milk cows to provide extra revenue.
  The 425-cow Dorrich Dairy is owned and operated by Dorothy and Richard Vold, Brad and Suzanne Vold, and Greg Vold. The younger Volds are the 4th generation to operate the land, which began when Richard’s grandparents began farming there in 1899. “We’ve got quite a history going here, and we want to have it continue for years to come,” says Brad.
   Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dorrich Dairy, 21434 Co. Rd. 21, Glenwood, Minn. 56334 (ph 320 634-5949; www.dorrichdairy.com; dorrich@wisper-wireless.com).


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2017 - Volume #41, Issue #2