ABC Sheds Articles

Follow animal effluent best practice with your shed

Best practice waste management for a farm and yards

If you own cattle, livestock, or run a sheep and beef farm, then chances are you already have a customised yard cover or fabricated shed, or you are looking to build one. Whatever the situation, you will need a shelter for milking cows, housing animals or sheltering them from extreme weather conditions. Whether you’re looking to build a new or replace an ageing shed, this could be the perfect time to review your waste management processes and infrastructure.

With livestock on any farm, appropriate waste management becomes an important practice that must be followed. If not managed well animal waste can affect everything from water quality to the environment, and even your health and that of your animals.

If you don’t know a lot about waste management practices or perhaps you’d like recommendations for waste management practices that are more environmentally friendly, then we’ve covered what you need to know. Here are some best practice tips for managing waste in and around your farm shed, shearing shed or cattle yard.

Considerations for farm waste management

There are lots of factors that will influence the type of waste management system you implement on your farm – from the amount of livestock you have to whether you run a dairy farm, and even how much rain you get. And while it is in all of our best interests to follow waste management best practices, each state and territory government has their own legislation and policies in place that must be followed.

What we can guide you on though are basic waste management practices that apply to most farms and how a farm shed, milking shed or yard cover can be engineered, to follow these practices. Read on to find out more.


On-farm composting can allow farmers to convert organic waste into a valuable resource for their crops. Composting enables the nutrients and organic matter in waste to be safely and conveniently returned back to the soil. Conventional composting techniques can be used to turn organic farm waste like manure and effluent treatment pond sludge into compost.

With any composting, it’s important to follow basic composting guidelines which include:

Site selection

The site you select for on-farm composting can be easily overlooked. Composting is a controlled process that needs to be checked regularly therefore the site you choose should allow for easy access and monitoring. Your site will also need to be close to water and effluent sources. Choose a hard surface without water logging issues as this will ensure that piles aren’t hard to turn during colder, wetter months.

Environmental factors

When you start the composting process, it’s important to understand the possible impact that you will have on the environment. A well managed and maintained composting operation should have minimal impact on the environment however unforeseen circumstances can arise. This is where site selection becomes even more important. Consider things like the potential for effluent runoff, odour, groundwater reserves and potential movement of particles in strong winds. How will this affect the surrounding environment and natural resources?

Water access

If you weren’t already aware, the composting process can consume a lot of water or effluent. You must ensure that your on-farm composting site is in a location where water is readily available.

Reuse farm waste

Animal waste and effluent causes significant odour issues and reusing this is a good way of dealing with the waste. The recommended way is to stockpile the waste and reuse it as fertiliser on crops and pastures. Spreading it as quickly as possible is also recommended as both stockpiling and spreading the waste would prevent flies.

You might know from experience that too many flies can not only agitate your livestock but also spread disease. Keeping your animals clean and healthy by reusing their waste for something like your crops is a great way to keep them in good condition.

Well planned yards

ABC Sheds yard cover

If you manage cattle and livestock in yards, then a well-planned yard and foundation are essential. It’s particularly important to manage runoff appropriately so that it drains from your yards and into the right waste catchments.

If possible, runoff from the yards should be under or around the holding yards via drains and diversion banks. The less water that you have on the surface of your yards, the easier it will be to manage. In saying this, runoff from stock should never be allowed to run directly into a waterway or permeable rock. The runoff should instead flow down to sediment traps or paddocks.

There are also some important considerations for preparing the foundation of your yards too. These include:

  • Ensure that the surface is well-drained, with a slope exceeding 0.02%.
  • Place and compact suitable material into any holes.
  • The surface will need to be excavated to a depth of at least 150mm. If the exposed foundation material does not comply with specifications, further excavation will be required.
  • If dust is present, water will be needed to suppress this.
  • Compact the ground to increase the density of the foundation material.
  • Ensure that no sharp rocks sit on top of the surface.

From here you will be ready to further construct the pad for your livestock or cattle yards, which could include installing a yard cover to provide shelter for your stock come the harsh summer months. Adding a yard cover can offer additional benefits such as the option to add solar panels to your shed to power lighting, milking machinery, ventilation and more. Adding guttering that feeds into a water tank can aid in increasing the water supply for effluent management.

Owning and operating a farm is a big responsibility and practising good waste management is paramount. By practising good waste management you can not only keep your space clean and maintain healthy livestock but also earn a few bucks by creating your own compost!

If you are still unsure about the waste management practices in your area, it’s always a good idea to check with the local governing authorities for their specific policies.

Custom designs for your farm needs

We offer cattle-yard covers and farm building designs to suit your specific needs – our buildings also have bay openings of up to 16 metres in width. We custom design every structure to suit your specific needs. Our engineers will provide detailed plans to execute the design that meets your shelter requirements. Whether you want a round yard, sheep yard or cattle-yard cover, the options are endless when you work with us!

Want to learn more about an ABC Sheds yard cover? Just head to our website for more information.

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