Turn cow manure into cash savings
Composter turns manure into bedding
By Brandy Harrison
CARRYING PLACE — Over a year and a half ago, Darryl Schipper’s cows began doing double-duty: today, they not only bring in the milk cheque, they also produce the raw material for their own bedding — manure.
"I thought it was too good to be true," says the Alymer dairy farmer, who began using Bedding Master Systems, a self-heating, rotating drum composter, in February 2011. A screw press separates manure solids into the drum, and after a 28- to 30-hour cycle kills pathogens, the composter spits out earthy, peat moss-like bedding.
It only took one trip to see the drum composter in action on British Columbia farms to convince Schipper. His cows are comfortable and clean, and he has an endless, free supply of bedding. But it gets better: he makes double the bedding he needs and sells the rest to neighbouring farms.
Despite worries about mastitis, Schipper says his somatic cell count (SCC) has dropped 50,000 to 100,000 and lameness and hock problems are non-existent.
Gerald Pulver, one of three Eastern Ontario farmers having the system installed in the next few months, toured Western Ontario farms and hopes he’ll save $800 per week on bedding costs.
"One of the guys told me that this bedding will do what the TMR machine did for the farm," says the Carrying Place dairy farmer.
It’s not cheap. Pulver spent over $350,000 to put in a new building and pay for equipment and installation.
The average cost is about $250,000 and farmers should be prepared to see power bills jump $150 to $200 per month, says John van Logtenstein, one of the owners of Dairy Lane Systems, the company that began selling the composter in Ontario two years ago. They sell four sizes, but the 6-32, which has capacity for 170 to 600 cows, is the most popular. By the end of the year, there will be 21 in Ontario and interest is growing.
"We get at least a call a week," says van Logtenstein.