- extend the grazing season
- decrease lameness
- reduce risk mastitis/cell count problems
- Cow tracks are for cows only - keep vehicles off
- Drainage is crucial - water destroys tracks
- Keeping tracks in good order requires maintenance
Renovating old tracks:
Signs of Problem:
- Increasing lameness while cows out
- Puddles or areas standing water on tracks
- Cows walking slowly on tracks (naturally move at brisk walking pace)
- Cows walking on verge
If you're going to invest in new tracks or improving old ones first plan the best layout - which areas of the farm do you need to reach and what is the shortest route to decrease cost of materials. Avoid hollows as areas of track are prone to damage. Avoid heavy shade so south facing side of hedge if possible. Avoid overhanging trees - damage beneath them can be marked. Avoid steep slopes (or use different materials) a loose surface should not be steeper than 8%.
Allow for rotation of gateways of necessary to minimise poaching.
Width - depends on number cows in the herd; 4m for 200 cows and 6m for 400.
Camber - to allow water to run off
Materials - surface must be compacted to aim run off and prevent stones working loose, should be as smooth and even as possible, see the Dairy Co booklet for possibilities and their limitations.
Cut back overhanging trees.
Identify areas of damp/standing water/damage.
Use heavy roller to compact surface.
Expect to have to do some annually although new stone tracks may last 2-3 years before needing attention.
Costs of putting in a track will depend largely on materials costs (but don't forget labour and ongoing maintenance). Savings will include - forage and bedding if grazing season extended as well as the benefit from decreased lameness and mastitis.
Dairy Co have a good booklet available here.
Please give us a call to discuss any of the above on 01363 772860, or email us here.