World Dairy Expo - Managing the tradeoffs of recycled manure solids

More US dairies want to use their recycled manure solids as bedding
calendar icon 13 November 2023
clock icon 3 minute read

Ben Towns, Associate Vice President of the Americas with Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production, recently spoke to The Dairy Site’s Sarah Mikesell at the 2023 World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

“We see this trend across the US of more and more dairies looking to utilize their manure as bedding, which is essentially recycled manure solids,” said Ben Towns. “There is this trend, but there are some trade offs and some risks that go along with that. Simply put, at the end of the day, you are taking dried manure and putting it back under the cows.”

When that dried manure becomes wet again, it becomes manure again and that brings milk quality concerns along with udder health issues and increased somatic cell counts.

“There have been different options in the industry for the last several years whether it be hydrated lime or some acid-type products that can help control pathogen growth,” he explained. “What we've worked on over the last couple of years has ultimately led to a product we call Certillus Eco Dairy Bedding.”

Certillus Eco Dairy Bedding is a natural bacillus-based product that can be applied to dried manure solids.

“When manure becomes wet underneath the cow, it inhibits the pathogen outgrowth,” he said. “To give dairy producers a safer way and more peace of mind when putting that manure back underneath the cows as bedding.”

More sustainable solution

“As far as being able to re-use the manure on your farm, it is certainly a sustainable solution,” said Towns.

There are many bedding options for producers to consider. For example, sand has been used under cows for decades and can be a good option for bedding, however, it’s not always great for equipment. Farmers may also be using wood shavings from off the farm to add to mattresses or beds.

“Being able to use your own dried manure solids - there absolutely is a sustainability angle for dairy farmers,” he said. “It's one less input cost on the farm.”

Another angle is to compare employee safety to other bedding treatment options that are available for treating recycled manure solids.

“Our bacillus product – Certillus Eco Dairy Bedding is safe,” said Towns. “Whereas with the hydrated lime or some of the acid products, employees must wear a respirator when they are applying those. If those products get on the skin, they can be harmful so there are some safety considerations there as well.”

Effectively target pathogens

“Where this started from again, we launched Certillus Eco Dairy Bedding within the last year, but for a couple years, we did different trials on farms trying to see which bacillus strains inhibit those pathogens the most effectively,” he said. “Then also what's the best application method to get it onto the manure solids.”

Typically, the product is applied on dairy farms right at the screw press. The product has come from a need in the industry and this trend of seeing more dairy farms wanting to use their recycled manure solids and wanting to inhibit the pathogen growth.

“Some of the more interesting conversations have come from dairy farms who would not today be candidates for this product - maybe they are still using sand, but they are thinking about the possibility of using their own recycled manure solids as bedding but are concerned about some of the things we just talked about.”

Certillus Eco Dairy Bedding gives dairy farmers an option to reduce that pathogen outgrowth safely and continue to effectively inhibit outgrowth of pathogens even after the application to their cow’s bedding.

“Looking at some of the responses we've seen on-farm, it’s decreased somatic cell count, reduced clinical mastitis events, and improved employee satisfaction and employee safety,” said Towns. “Employees are handling a safe product, not one of the other options. Certillus Eco Dairy Bedding has turned out to be something interesting for us to offer, and a great option on dairy farms that are using their recycled manure solids.”

Sarah Mikesell


Sarah Mikesell grew up on a five-generation family farming operation in Ohio, USA, where her family still farms. She feels extraordinarily lucky to get to do what she loves - write about livestock and crop agriculture. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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