Send to

Choose Destination
Animal. 2019 Aug 14:1-10. doi: 10.1017/S1751731119001848. [Epub ahead of print]

Production, economic viability and risks associated with switching dairy cows from drylots to compost bedded pack systems.

Author information

Animal Science Department, Federal University of Viçosa, Avenue Peter Henry Rolfs, sn, Animal Science Department, Viçosa, MG 36570-900, Brazil.
Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.


The use of compost bedded pack systems (CBS) has increased over the past 5 years in tropical countries, and studies associating production traits with economical outcomes of this system are warranted. Our objectives were to evaluate productive traits, economic outcomes and the risks of losses of dairy farms that switched from a drylot system (DLS) to a CBS and to compare these with similar farms that did not change their system. We collected data from 18 farms over 36 consecutive months (August 2014 to July 2017). All farms started the study as DLS, and six farms switched to CBS in the second year. The other 12 farms kept their DLS during the 36 months of evaluation. Annual technical and economic indexes per farm were collected and calculated. Additionally, a risk analysis was performed based on a 10-year historical series of milk prices. The results were analysed using a regression model including year and herd as categorical variables (fixed), system and herd size as quantitative variables (fixed), and system × herd as a random variable. Furthermore, a non-metric multidimensional scaling plot was used to evaluate producers' profiles in each year. Milk fat, milk total solids, and somatic cell count did not change when farms switched from DLS to CBS, and averaged 3.80%, 12.04%, and 256 500 cells/ml, respectively. However, milk protein (%) decreased in CBS farms. The majority of milk production variables were not affected. Nevertheless, farms that switched to CBS increased milk production per cow by 13.3% compared with DLS farms. Total operation costs (296 076.83 $/year) were not affected by the system, and neither were the costs of concentrates, roughage, labour or medicines. Net margin per litre (0.09 $/l), operating profit (14.95%), assets per litre (398.68 $/l per day) and return on assets (10.27%) did not change when farms switched from DLS to CBS. Net margin ($/l and $/cow) and asset turnover rate increased in CBS farms. Risk analysis indicated that the risk was reduced by 38% in CBS farms. Furthermore, our analysis showed that producers who switched to CBS had similar technical and economic indexes in the first year before switching their system. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that CBS systems might be promising for producers in tropical countries who are looking for a more productive and less risky system. We did not observe improvements in animal health as previously reported in the literature.


compost barn; economy; efficiency; profitability; semi-confined


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Cambridge University Press
Loading ...
Support Center