Top tips for feedpads and calving pads

3 March 2021

Feedpads are used in dairying as an important management system to aid supplementary feeding by reducing waste.

Feedpads are also used to hold herds during periods of adverse weather, especially wet conditions, to minimise production losses, protect paddocks from pugging and to reduce damage to laneways.

Feeding systems can range from a mobile temporary solution for occasional supplementary feeding up to permanent, regularly utilised concrete pads. Carefully consider the environment impacts and cost of construction.

A semi-temporary feedpad usually consists of a formed earthen or rubble base promoting off-site drainage. Effective drainage is essential to keep the pad clean and maximise the pads life. This type of feeding system is typically located near the dairy or central laneway and will aid in additional supplements being fed to the herd, pre and post milking.

Calving pads are used by many farmers so they can easily check and assist cows at calving time, provide adequate supplementary feed, and minimise environmental impacts from effluent runoff.

The design of the calving pad is influenced by the location, how steep the farm is and how frequently they will be used.

Dairy farmers are entitled to use feedpads and calving pads as part of their farming system, they should also be aware of community expectations and potential negative attention if not managed properly.

Dairy farmers are required to manage manure and recycled effluent to avoid adverse impacts from odour and dust, prevent the pollution of ground and surface waters and land, and to provide a safe working environment for staff and contractors.

A poorly designed and/or managed feedpad or calving pad may result in potential issues such as:

Top tips on feedpad and calving pad construction, cleaning and maintenance are:

There are helpful resources available to assist farmers who are developing a new feedpad or calving pad or looking to improve their existing feedpad or calving pad.

For more information and to download the Guidelines for Victorian dairy feedpads and free stalls, see the effluent and manure management database for the Australian Dairy Industry.

Media contact: Sarah Hetherington, 0409 405 639