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Assess Options for Bedding Now

by 5m Editor
14 June 2011, at 6:05pm

UK - Pig producers must plan ahead and consider their options for bedding material as straw is likely to be in short supply this year following the spring drought. BPEX is compiling a bulletin on the alternatives to straw bedding and advice on how to make straw go a bit further.

BPEX knowledge transfer manager, Colin Stone, reports that there is virtually no old crop barley straw for sale in East Anglia this week but wheat straw is available to farmers willing to travel some distance to collect it.

Mr Stone said: "The drought in East Anglia means straw yield will be significantly down – in some crops in the region by as much as 25 per cent. As a result, pig producers are keen to buy straw by the number of bales produced rather than by the acre. Many will also be looking to reduce straw wastage."

BPEX recommendations include:

  • protecting stored straw from the elements as far as possible, using plastic sheeting for outdoor stacks
  • minimising dunging areas
  • ensuring drainage is good, and
  • keeping a close eye on drinkers and feeders to avoid unnecessary spoiling.

Producers can also consider alternative bedding materials such as low-quality grass hay, maize stalks, pea and bean straw, rye straw, shredded newspaper, hemp and woodchips or coarse sawdust.

Cost and effectiveness varies though. For more advice, producers can contact their local BPEX Knowledge Transfer Manager directly, e-mail [email protected] or call 02476 478792.

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