When the cows are in the parlor being milked the alleys in the barn are scrapped (picture to the left) in to a holding pit at the end of the pen. (right picture)
We bed our barns with sand so the manure is full of sand when it enters the pit. Sand is the ultimate bedding from the standpoint of dairy cow health. Sand provides a healthy environment for the udder, keeps cows cleaner, and aids in cow traction on slick concrete. The sand is trucked to the farm from a gravel pit located near the farm.
Once the manure is in the pit at the end of the barn the sand needs to be taken out of it. For this process we use Sand-Manure Separators, from the McLanahan Corporation. Six separators total are used, four of the separators are located at farm 2 and there are two at farm 3.
Above is a sand separator from 3 different angles. The manure from the pit makes its way to the separator where recycled water is added in order to dilute the mixture, which gives the sand a chance to settle out. Once the sand it settled out of the manure it is augured out and stacked. At this point the manure is almost sand free. The separated sand that comes out of this process is stacked out of the way to drain and dry. In a couple months it will be ready to be reused under the heifers.
That leaves us with the manure. There are two options for the manure, haul it to the field for injection or it can be sent to the treatment plant. We have added another step in the treatment process with the addition of the methane digester. For more information on how the digester works please visit the methane digester page.