Cleaning and maintenance of dairy barns and sheds

Did you know, a lactating dairy cow can produce over 60kg of manure every day?! Now think of how many are in your herd…

A bit of cow manure can do a world of good, but that’s when it’s in small doses and out in a paddock. Building up in a dairy shed or barn, on straw, steel or a concrete floor, bacteria build-up, leading to disease, which can quickly become a problem, not to mention the bad smell.


  • Prevent a breeding ground for bacteria
  • Reduce possible sources of contamination of milk
  • Remove bad odours
  • Necessary for general healthy conditions (for humans and animals)
  • Good practice to maintain general hygiene and sanitation on your farm.


Bacteria are inescapable but they are manageable. By disinfecting areas you decrease the possibility of infection and disease. But which chemicals to choose?

There are plenty out there, many specifically to deal with cow manure and milk fats, but before you choose which one, arm yourself with a few facts:

  • know what germs you want to fight
  • what are the the surfaces like that need to be cleaned (rough, porous surfaces are harder to disinfect compared to smooth surfaces for example)
  • how much organic matter needs to be dealt with
  • how often the area needs cleaning.


Part of the cleaning process is what to do with the effluent produced. As we all know, the answer is an effective and comprehensive effluent management system; managing it incorrectly can lead to water contamination – a very hot topic in New Zealand these days.

If you’re using a barn or shed as an off paddock housing solution for long periods of time it will need some level of cleaning to remove effluent regularly throughout the day. A full disinfectant wash down may only ever be necessary once in a blue moon. If you do decide to do this you can either wait for a time when all cows are out on pasture to disinfect, or you could remove a portion of the herd for a small time and run a rotating schedule in which a block of stalls can be sectioned off and cleaned each day until all have been disinfected and the group of cows can return to the shed. 

If using straw for bedding this will need regular changing as wet straw will become a breeding ground for bacteria which may enter the teat’s milk canal leading to infections and mastitis.


If you have a steel building you’ll know it’s robust and durable. You probably chose it for it’s low maintenance properties, but don’t confuse that for no maintenance. Make any repairs quickly and regularly. This is just sensible so that any problem doesn’t escalate. And the outside should require only a cold water hose down if mud and other contaminants have built up on it.


Calder Stewart’s Dairy Barn Systems have taken cleaning and maintenance into consideration in the design of our buildings.

We include good shed design which promotes air flow and a ventilation system to reduce condensation; concrete floors for easy hose down, effluent channels and containment systems.

And to deal with all the effluent we partner with GEA who have created an automated scraping system which moves up and down the scraper lane, removing effluent into a channel underneath.