Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

Improved design and management of woodchip pads for sustainable out-wintering of livestock - LK0676

Description
The aim of the project is to evaluate the hypothesis that woodchip pads provide a reduced cost over-wintering system for cattle, with significantly reduced pollution risk to air and water and with health and welfare benefits to the animals.
Although some guidelines on the design, construction and management of woodchip pads have recently emerged, many woodchip pads have been, and continue to be, installed without adequate design or planning. Recent research has shown that unlined, woodchip corrals present an unacceptable risk of pollution to ground waters and a robust assessment of the costs of improved design and construction is urgently required. The consequences of poor pad construction and management include not only serious risks of groundwater contamination with nutrients and pathogens but of total pad failure, with negative impacts on animal health and welfare, as well as on farm income. On the other hand, it seems likely that woodchip pads can make a significant contribution towards the abatement of ammonia emissions from the dairy and beef sectors and to a reduction in pollutant runoff from farmsteadings. However, there have been no robust measurements of gaseous emissions to date and there are few data on effluent quality. Detailed design options will be costed and reported as an early project output and will be reviewed towards the end of the project according to the research findings. Gaseous emissions and effluent output and quality will be monitored and the importance of a range of factors affecting animal and pad performance evaluated with implications for guidelines on woodchip pad management. The impact of pad management on animal cleanliness and welfare will also be considered.
Objective
1. To complete a review of recent research on woodchip pads, with particular reference to effluent management and emissions; the findings to help inform the final detail of studies to be undertaken within this project;
2. At an early stage, to complete an analysis of the costs associated with a range of pad construction and management options; these costs to be reviewed at the end of the project;
3. To study nutrient fluxes via effluent drainage and emissions of gaseous N, under a range of management and across a range of environmental conditions;
4. To evaluate the impact of a range of factors on pad performance and effluent quality; to include woodchip size, pad drainage and stocking rate;
5. To study the impact of management on animal and pad performance; to include aspects of animal welfare and cleanliness; also the need for woodchip replenishment;
6. To review best practice guidelines on the construction and management of woodchip pads and to promote the key findings to the beef and dairy industries via promotional events, the literature and via industry partners.
Project Documents
• EXE - Executive Summary : LK0676 Executive Summary   (149k)
• Other : Improved design and management of woodchip pads   (3402k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2007

To: 2011

Cost: £297,494
Contractor / Funded Organisations
British Grassland Society, David Simmonds, English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX), Milk Development Council, Institute of Grassland and Environment Research (IGER), South West Forest, Alan Cottle, Westlakes Scientific Consulting Ltd, Hybu Cyg Cymru (HCC), Dummy for IGER Link, ADAS UK Ltd.
Keywords
Air Quality              
Cattle              
LINK Programme              
Livestock              
Sustainable Farming and Food Science              
Water Pollution              
Water Quality              
Water Quality and Use