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A Guide to Off-Paddock Systems for New Zealand Dairy Farms

In the evolving landscape of dairy farming, off-paddock systems are emerging as pivotal tools for many farms, offering benefits from pasture protection to enhanced cow welfare and productivity. As you contemplate integrating these systems into your farm, understanding each’s nuances can guide your decision-making. Here’s a deep dive into the various options available:

Feed and Stand-Off Pads

Description: These are dedicated open concrete surfaces where cows can eat and rest, often located near the dairy shed. They serve as a primary tool for managing pasture damage during wet periods and maximizing feed utilization.


  • Reduces pasture damage.
  • Efficient feed utilization.
  • Potential to keep cows on farm over winter.


  • Open to the elements without protection from rain or sun.
  • Effluent runoff management can be a challenge if pond capacity is small.

New Technology – Flood Wash Systems Integration: Incorporating flood wash systems into feed pads can greatly reduce yard cleaning time and cost. By releasing a stored volume of water, these systems can clean a yard within seconds, reducing labour and ensuring efficient cleaning with minimal water wastage.

Loose Housed Barns

Description: Essentially a feed pad with a roof, these barns provide a large communal area for cows, protecting them from the elements while ensuring efficient feed utilization.


  • Protection from the elements.
  • Efficient feed utilization.
  • Potential to keep cows on farm over winter.


  • Requires more initial investment than open pads.

New Technology – Flood Wash Systems Integration: Just like feed pads, loose-housed barns can benefit immensely from flood wash systems. The rapid cleaning ensures a hygienic environment, reducing the risk of diseases and improving overall cow welfare.

Compost Barns

Description: These barns focus on creating a sustainable ecosystem that composts cow effluent into fertiliser. Cows lie on compost under a covered roof, with the manure generating heat, keeping them warm and dry.


  • Sustainable nutrient production for farm soil.
  • Enhanced cow comfort and well-being.
  • Optimized feed utilization.


  • Requires regular maintenance and bedding material addition.
  • High level of technical knowledge needed to operate.
  • The bacterial ecosystem can break down if regular turning doesn’t occur or temperature and airflow is not managed well.

Free Stall Barns

Description: These premium barns provide individual spaces for cows to lie down, ensuring personalized comfort and protection from the elements.


  • Individualized care for cows.
  • Increased production potential.
  • Enhanced cow welfare.


  • High initial investment.

The Future of Off-Paddock Systems

Historically, the adoption of off-paddock systems has been a mixed bag. While some farms have reported outstanding results from their chosen systems, others have faced challenges, with certain systems not living up to expectations. Additionally, many of these systems, while beneficial, have demanded significant labor and management efforts.

However, with the advent of new technologies and innovative practices, there’s a notable shift towards making these systems more streamlined and efficient. At the heart of these advancements is the goal to reduce workload and streamline farm operations. The integration of rubber matting and flood wash systems in feed pads and loose-housed barns, for example, making management easier and more efficient. Likewise, new roof designs are proving exceptionally good at delivering the airflow needed to create healthy cow barn environments.

Moreover, taking a long-term view is essential. At NumatAGRI, we understand that every farm’s journey is unique. We can assist farmers in developing their systems in stages. For instance, starting with an open feed pad equipped with a flood wash system, which can later be expanded and roofed as needs evolve. This phased approach ensures flexibility, scalability, and a future-proof farming operation.

Ultimately, your farm’s off-paddock solution has to meet your farm’s needs, and the approach might be unique to you. That’s why, when we come to your farm, we don’t bring a catalogue, we bring a notepad, a pencil, and ears to listen (we also bring a drone to conduct a 3D drone scan to create a 3D plan of your potential off-pasture solutions).

The point is, in the world of off-paddock systems, there are many options and NumatAGRI is here to help you find, design, and build the best one for you. If you’d like to talk more about this, contact us on 0800 686 119.

Download Our Off-Paddock Solutions Guide

Get answers to the following questions:

  • How much do they cost?
  • What are the options?
  • Ongoing maintenance?
  • Roof or no roof?
  • Which effluent system?