Abstract #T124

# T124
Production, economic viability, and risks associated to switching from drylots to compost barns.
M. I. Marcondes*1,2, W. H. Mariano1, A. De Vries2, 1Federal University of Vicosa, Vicosa, MG, Brazil, 2University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

The use of compost bedded barns (CB) has increased in tropical countries in the past 5 years, and studies associating production traits and economical outcomes are warranted. Our objectives were to evaluate productive traits, economic outcomes, and risks of loss from dairy farms that switched from drylots (DL) to CB. We collected data from 18 farms located in Brazil during 36 consecutive months. All farms started the study as DL, with average milk production per day of 1,815 L, and 6 farms switched to CB in the second year. The other 12 farms remained DL during the 3 years. Annual technical and economic indexes were collected and calculated. Additionally, a risk analysis was performed based on a 10-year historical series of milk prices. The results were analyzed using a regression model including year and herd as categorical variables (fixed), system and herd size as quantitative variables (fixed), and system × herd as random variable. Furthermore, a non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) plot was used to evaluate producers’ profiles. Milk fat, milk total solids, and somatic cell count did not change when farms switched from DL to CB. However, milk protein decreased in CB farms. The majority of variables related to milk production were also not affected. Nevertheless, farms that switched to CB increased 13.3% milk production per cow (from 20.8 to 23.6 kg/d). Total operational costs were not affected by system and neither were expenses with concentrate, roughage, labor or medicines. Net margin per liter, operational profit, assets per liter, and assets returning rate did not change when farms switched from DL to CB. Net margin ($/L and $/cow), profit per cow and assets turnover rate were increased in CB farms. The risk was reduced by 38% in CB farms. Furthermore, the NMDS analysis indicated that producers that decided to switch to CB had already similarities in technical and economic indexes in the first year, before changing the system. This study demonstrates that CB may be promising for producers in tropical countries looking for a more productive and less risky system. It should be also noted that we did not observe improvements in animals’ health as previously reported in the literature.

Key Words: compost bedded pack, economy, semi-confined