Livestock heavy use pad made from sawmill byproducts.
The use of the sawmill slabs for heavy use pads shows potential. They support the animals above the mud. They appear to seal and I believe they will last for many years before decomposition. The biggest drawback has been transportation. The slabs were much more difficult to transport than expected. I originally made a deal with the sawmill to use banded slabs. Because of the wet weather, the slabs were banded and stored behind the sawmill. They were to be delivered by the sawmill with a boom truck that would use the boom to place them and I would cut the bands and smooth the pile with my tractor and loader. Most of the slabs that were banded and stored were dryer than the fresh slabs in the sawmill's waste pile. Because of this, each night people would cut up my banded slabs for firewood. We resorted to using the un-banded slabs out of the waste pile and transporting them with a dump truck. I could not transport near the estimated load because of the slabs catching on the back door. As I continue to expand the pad this summer, I will have to get the sawmill to transport the banded slabs as soon as they are banded or I will have to remove the door from the dump truck.
There is only one objective for this project. No one disputes the value of heavy use pads to reduce the impact of mud in livestock operations. My objective is to study the value of using sawmill byproducts to determine their value as compared to stone or concrete. I will not have the final numbers until the end of the project but I am confident the slabs compare favorably with stone.
Our limestone is currently at $18.50 a ton delivered. It is a very soft stone with a large shale content. The shale dissolves within a year leaving a fraction of the delivered stone. The stone also rolls out as cattle push at the feeders. The stone is also difficult to clean. The slabs do push out but I will be adding additional slabs this summer. I also have access to free sawdust and will be using it to seal the pad and compare it to the unsealed pad. The major advantage of the unsealed pad is that it lets the mud and manure work through the cracks of the slabs to lock them in place and seal the pad without the additional cost of transporting the sawdust.
One pad completed and successfully utilized. I plan to increase the size of the pad and add an additional pad this summer.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The greatest impact is that I have an additional place to feed cattle when the weather turns wet. I rotate my pastures as long as possible in the winter and when my rotations conclude I will continue to roll out round bales on pasture if it is dry. However, when the weather turns wet, heavy use pads allow me to drylot the cattle in a small area and save much of my pasture. I have steep slopes and a large percentage of reclaimed strip mines. The heavy use pads are very important for reducing wet weather damage and preventing erosion. An additional impact is that the slabs that I am using are not being burned. A portion of the sawmills slabs are used by local residents for heating in the winter. However, during the summer and even during the winter, the stockpile of slabs grows excessively large and must be burned.