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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Waste Management

Spatial and Time Distribution of Dairy Cattle Excreta in an Intensive Pasture System


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 30 No. 6, p. 2180-2187
    Received: Jan 26, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): Steve_Washburn@ncsu.edu
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  1. S. L. Whitea,
  2. R. E. Sheffieldc,
  3. S. P. Washburn *a,
  4. L. D. Kingb and
  5. J. T. Greend
  1. a Dep. of Animal Science, North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC 27695-7621
    c Dep. of Biol. and Agric. Eng., North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC 27695-7625
    b Dep. of Soil Science, North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC 27695-7619
    d Jr., Dep. of Crop Science, North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC 27695-7620


This study determined distribution of feces and urine from 36 lactating dairy cattle (Bos taurus) managed in a rotationally grazed 0.74-ha endophyte-free tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.)–white clover (Trifolium repens L.) pasture. Cows were observed for 24 h five times from July 1997 to April 1998, and for 13.5 h in September 1997. During each 24-h observation period, the first grazing period (12 h) used 54% of the paddock and the second grazing period (8 h) used the entire paddock. Times and locations of all defecations and urinations from a subgroup of eight cows, observed while in the pasture, feed area, milking parlor, or in transit were recorded during the observation periods listed above and another time in May 1997. On pasture, all defecations and urinations were surveyed and mapped for all 36 cows. Feces and urine from six observation periods covered an estimated 10% of the paddock area in one year. Within 30 m of the water tank, concentrations of feces and urine from three warm-season observations were significantly greater than concentrations during three cool-season observations. Percentages of defecations and urinations on the pasture, feeding, and milking areas were highly correlated (r > 0.90) with time spent in those areas. Pasture-based systems could reduce manure handling and storage requirements proportional to the time cattle are on pastures. Manure on the pasture was evenly distributed, except around the water tank during warm-weather grazings. Results indicate that pasture-based dairy systems may require smaller, less-expensive manure management systems compared with confinement dairy farms.

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Copyright © 2001. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.30:2180–2187.