University of Vermont

Cultivating Healthy Communities

Research Project:

Implementing and Evaluating Woodchip Heavy-use Areas for Livestock in the Northeast

Cattle on Woodchips

Livestock farmers are seeking to protect their pastures during vulnerable times, provide their animals with a comfortable barnyard, reduce runoff that can deteriorate water quality near their farms, and are made of easily-accessed, affordable materials.

Woodchip heavy-use areas (aka 'woodchip pads') are an improved type of livestock holding area that uses large, screened woodchips as a surface material instead of concrete. These could be an excellent solution for small-scale livestock producers in northern New England wanting to protect pastures during sensitive times of the year, while also reducing environmental impact to water quality. They are less expensive and offer increased animal comfort compared to concrete. Our team is actively studying these systems, and have worked with university and research farms to construct several in the Northeast over the past few years, with one more due to be finished in Fall 2016. Thus far, feedback has been positive, and monitoring has shown that runoff volumes and nutrient loads from the pads are much lower than the concrete alternative.

Research-Related Publications:

  • Faulkner, J.W. , J.L. Miller, T.J. Basden, D.B. DeVallance. 2015. Woodchip heavy-use area effluent quality, quantity, and hydrologic design considerations. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 31(5):783-790.
  • DeVallance, D.B., J.W. Faulkner , and T. Basden. 2015. Laboratory Evaluation of Biomass Media for use in Livestock Heavy-Use Areas. ASABE Paper #152189792. American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers Annual International Meeting, July 26-29, New Orleans, LA, USA.

Project Partners

For More Information

Contact Joshua Faulkner by email at or at 802-656-3495.

Last modified August 26 2016 01:06 PM