Source: Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
The use of roller compacted concrete (RCC) to improve pen floor durability is growing in Alberta’s beef feeding industry.
“We have seen quite a bit of interest in RCC for feedlot pen floors because of the issues with cattle welfare and performance, worker safety and pen maintenance costs,” says Cody Metheral, agri-environmental extension specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
Pen floor deterioration typically occurs when snow melts and rainfall mixes with manure and bedding. Cattle hoof action causes a kneading effect at the manure-clay surface. The moisture then slowly starts to penetrate the clay base. It can cause localized water ponding in high traffic areas behind feed bunks, gates and water bowls.
RCC is a blend of conventional concrete materials, including cement, water, sand aggregate and additives.
“What sets it apart,” explains Metheral, “It that it is mixed in different ratios and contains much less water than traditional concrete.”
“Its advantages include shortened curing times, flexural and compressive strength, and installation that require no forms, finishing or surface texturing. RCC forms a strong, durable surface that cattle hoof action will not penetrate, and it is more economical to install than traditional concrete.”
“There are some additional claims that RCC may also help industry reduce pen dust, flies, odour, manure production and carcass contamination during slaughter,” he adds.
Metheral estimates that 20% of the province’s beef feeding industry has installed RCC in the past four years.
“Moving forward, I think industry will be looking at new feedlot pen design, increased stocking density and pen limitations. We are also trying to get a handle on how to prepare the base before installing RCC. Good base prep is probably going to ensure this product has a long lifespan.”
He also encourages producers to understand the product performance claim and verify performance with testing. “Producers should ensure there is an agreement in place for product replacement. RCC is an expensive product and the producer is paying for performance.”
Metheral adds that RCC is not necessarily for every feedlot, especially those with good drainage. “Good drainage ensures that water flows from pen to pen, and if the feedlot has good drainage, the pen floor does not seem to deteriorate as fast. On some of our flatter feedlots, water can collect between pens, so RCC is probably more appropriate for feedlots with less grade.”
To connect with the Alberta Ag-Info Centre:
Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Toll free: 310-FARM (3276)