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Unlocking the Secrets to Effective Sand Bedding

10 Apr 2024

When it comes to dairy cow comfort, sand bedding stands out as the gold standard. Renowned for its forgiving, deep cushion and resistance to bacterial growth, the choice of sand isn't arbitrary.

“The important thing to remember is that not all sand is created equally, so be aware of what you’re getting with your sand purchases,” says Renee Schrift, business line director – agricultural systems at McLanahan Corporation.

Here are three essential considerations for ensuring sand bedding success:

Tailor Sand to Manure Management Goals

The source and characteristics of sand play a pivotal role in your dairy's manure handling strategy. Are you aiming for sand separation and recycling, or do you prefer it to remain in suspension throughout your system? Your choice influences factors like sand weight, density and particle size. Understanding your goals helps in sourcing the right type of sand effectively.

Understand Sand Variations

Opt for sand with a specification of 30x50 (silica sand), comprising particles ranging from 30 to 50 microns in size. Concrete sand, meeting ASTM C-33 standards, is a popular choice due to its ideal particle mix for cow comfort and cleanliness. This sand type minimizes the presence of fine material, ensuring better stall drainage and reduced bacterial growth. Regular sand evaluations maintain consistency and quality assurance.

Factor in Costs Wisely

Consider transportation expenses when selecting sand sources. While on-farm pits may seem convenient, they could contain undesirable particle sizes or high organic matter levels. Exploring nearby sand options can mitigate transportation costs. Additionally, prioritize sand types suitable for recycling, such as concrete sand, to optimize cost efficiency. Efficient sand recycling not only reduces bedding expenses but also enhances the benefits of sand bedding for your dairy.

By prioritizing cow comfort and considering essential factors like sourcing, particle size, proximity and cost-effectiveness, dairy farms can maximize the advantages of sand bedding. Making informed decisions about sand selection translates into happier cows and healthier bottom lines.

“Keep the basics of cow comfort in mind when making sand selections, as well as important factors like source, particle size, proximity and price,” concludes Schrift. “Your cows and your bottom line will notice the difference in sand sources.”


Farmers Hot Line is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.