Editor's note: The follow article was featured in the May issue of Dairy Herd Management. Click here to read more from the issue.

University of Kentucky dairy scientists Jeffrey Bewley and Joseph Taraba estimate more than 80 compost bedded pack barns have been constructed in Kentucky. They have provided a list of the most important design features for dairy farmers considering similar barns.

  1.  A minimum of 100 square feet per cow should be provided within the resting area.
  2. Compost bedded pack barns should be oriented to maximize natural winds coming across the longer side of the barn.
  3. An open ridge vent is critical for maximizing natural ventilation.
  4. Sidewalls should be constructed to allow for at least 12 feet of open space for airflow above the retaining wall or outside curb for barns that are less than 40 ft wide while a 14 ft height is recommended for barns wider than 40 ft.
  5. Provide a minimum of 24 to 30 inches of feed bunk space per cow, 3 feet of water tank perimeter per 15 to 20 cows, and at least 2 separate water locations per pen.
  6. Provide multiple entry access points along the long side of the rectangular resting area. 
  7. Because cows defecate and urinate more around feed and water, they should have access to waterers only on the alley side. 
  8. Eave overhangs should be equal to one-third the height of the sidewall to minimize rain from reaching the pack, and install roof gutters to reduce roof runoff from blowing into the pack.
  9. Properly position fans help cool cows and dry bedding material.
  10. The bedded pack is often surrounded on all sides by 2 to 4-foot walls, including a wall to separate the bedded pack from the feed alley.

This list is intended to be a checklist, rather than a detailed design guide.  For more detailed design features, check out “Compost Bedded Pack Barn Design Features and Management Considerations” at http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id206/id206.pdf