How livestock farmers can maximise straw usage this winter

An updated resource from AHDB Beef & Lamb will help farmers find ways to extend straw use this winter. The bedding materials directory will help farmers assess a range of bedding options to ensure they are using the most appropriate materials for their livestock.

Straw is the most commonly used bedding material. With the hot and dry weather conditions availability of bedding has been a question mark for many. Yet summer 2018 is not the first time there have been concerns over bedding costs or availability, and it’s unlikely to be the last. Farmers across the country have already been using alternatives and the bedding materials directory has been a valuable resource in understanding the pros and cons of different bedding materials.

Katie Thorley, AHDB senior knowledge transfer manager for Beef & Lamb, said: “This summer has been tough on farming with the prolonged periods of dry and hot weather. Farmers will have already started to prepare for the winter and this includes looking at their feed and bedding requirements and reserves.

“For those concerned about shortfalls, the updated bedding materials directory will give farmers an opportunity to identify alternative bedding materials to straw.”

Bedding has a significant bearing on animal health and welfare. Livestock kept in badly managed housing with poor environmental conditions will not grow well and will be more susceptible to disease.

It is important that farmers work out how much straw they have and what they will need as either feed or bedding throughout the winter months. They can then investigate the availability and price of alternative products. Some may be readily available depending on where farms are situated and are worth considering if availability and cost match system requirements.

From cereal straw through to Miscanthus, the directory gives a comprehensive list of bedding options complete with a comparison table, which helps farmers to quickly cross-reference the different materials.

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.