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txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Oct 04 2015 :  6:20:35 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
ok, we have a bit of straw to get started in the corrals but not enough for long-term. i know the difference between hay and straw, thanks "milk cow kitchen" author! but there are different types of straw, and are all of them acceptable bedding/ground coverage around our precious cows?

i am seeing ads for wheat straw, oat straw, rice straw, and then the "who knows what it is" because it is just listed as "straw".

straw is VERY hard to find around here, we encountered this last spring when we had our torrential rains and needed something for the outside coop area. i just thought it was bad timing then that we couldn't find any. but no, with our mild winters apparently not many people around here use straw to keep things from being too mucky - around here everyone has all their animals out on pasture 24/7/365 so the demand for straw is low. we not only have mild winters, but land is cheap here so everyone has some... at 24 acres we are an extremely small piece of land in this area.

we can go about 3-4 hours north and get some straw, and there are several options up that way. but want to make sure i am not getting a type that will harm the cows. any opinions?

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")

maryjane

7001 Posts


Posted - Oct 04 2015 :  7:11:49 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I don't have a copy of my book handy but there's a highlighted paragraph about making sure it hasn't been treated with a certain chemical that shows up in many different composite chemicals. This fall when the farmer who cuts and bales straw for us from his wheat or barley crops got to worrying about the fine print on the chemicals he'd used to grow the wheat, he doubled checked the label since everyone around knows what a disaster it was (headline news). The University farm gave their manure to our local community garden several years ago in which they'd used local straw for bedding. Everything in the garden was deformed and had to be abandoned for several years while it worked its way out of the soil. At it turns out, it turned up on the label of the chemicals he'd used so he found another farmer nearby who'd grown wheat without it and he went over and baled 600 bales of straw for us.

I read recently about someone on a dairy using wood chips for bedding that they somehow "turn" regularly. I have lots of wood chips around for mud control and the manure just disappears into it, even after all these years. You mentioned how you do your chicken coop (deep bedding I think you said). Would that work for cow bedding?

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Oct 05 2015 :  07:42:30 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
you know what mary jane, we even have wood lots around here that might have chips - untreated chips from untreated wood. i am going to look into that as an alternative. people don't think about texas as lumber country, but east texas is the "piney woods" and we have many, many lumbermills. in fact, we know of two good small privately owned mills. they have a TON of cedar and pine trees here. i know pine needles are a no no around the cows, but is there any problem you know of for either cedar or pine chips/shavings?

we do have a wood chipper, and i have thought of taking our downed small limbs and making my own chips for the coop as a long-term project... but i have to get caught up and get into a rhythm before i can embark on additional tasks. that would probably be a good winter task for me, as other chores start slowing down it would get me outside more and getting daily exercise beyond just caretaking cows, chickens and pugs. of course, we only have around two months of winter - but thats enough time to make a good pile!

and yes, that whole chemical pass-thru is scary. i won't go into it here in detail but remember that i come from a big-ag background, and it always amazes me what the "label life" of a chemical is stated to be given that they are even finding sprayed crops fed to horses, then the manure put into official compost facilities that ensure it is heated properly, and then it goes out to the public... and nothing will grow. downright scary.

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")
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CloversMum

3486 Posts


Posted - Oct 05 2015 :  08:35:26 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I know that cedar wood chips are not good for my goats and chickens but I don't know about cows. I'd love to find a cheaper source for wood chips as they seem to be more absorbent than straw. Straw really needs to be chopped in order for it to be more absorbent. I like to put a layer of pine shavings down with a layer of straw over the top. The straw seems to act more like an insulated nest for the animals.

Loving life and family on our Idaho farm, Meadowlark Heritage Farm; A few Jersey cows; a few alpacas; a few more goats, and even more ducks and chickens
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txbikergirl

3197 Posts


Posted - Oct 06 2015 :  1:49:00 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
i talked to a neighbor last night, everyone around here uses wood chips - who knew??!! so off to the lumber yard we go in the next week or so. they'll sell a trailer load at a time so i have to find a place to dump it... can't give up prime pasture for that.

Firefly Hollow Farm , our little farmstead. Farmgirl living in the green piney woods of East Texas on 23 acres with a few jerseys, too many chickens, a pair of pugs and my Texan hubby (aka "lover boy")
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maryjane

7001 Posts


Posted - Oct 06 2015 :  2:20:12 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The chips we use aren't cedar chips but different varieties of local pine. Lucky you!!! Ours are sort of hard to come by. Yes, our trailer loads take up a fair amount of space.

MaryJane Butters, author of Milk Cow Kitchen ~ striving for the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain ~
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