Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day 3: Straw - the stuff clean pens are made of

Straw is another baled product, but instead of a foodsource (though it can be added in small amounts chopped up really fine into a cow's diet to give them extra fiber) it is used primarily for bedding.

Cows, and other animals, make a mess - there is no way around it.  But, if they are not given clean, dry bedding, then they can get cold and wet; usually leading to them becoming sick.  So, it is in our best interest to keep our animals as clean and dry as possible.  Straw is one of the main bedding sources used to do this.  It is lightweight and absorbent.

Straw is typically made from the "leftover" plant after harvesting wheat.  We don't grow any wheat on our farm, but instead, buy straw bales from other area farmers.  Wheat is a plant that grows over the winter.  It is planted in the fall, and grows green right now, and then goes dormant over the winter, awaking again in the spring.  It grows about 3-4' tall, and is harvested in the summer.  The seed head is contains the grain, and the remainder of the plant stem, can be raked and baled-just like hay.


Once on our farm, it is primarily used to bed our cows about to calve and young heifers.  We utilize what are called big square bales.  

Bales in storage
In the youngest calf pens, they also serve as windbreaks for the calves to hide behind.

 Here's hoping for another calm winter to make our straw supply last until next summer!

Check out the other "30 days" blogs by visiting Holly Spangler's My Generation blog.

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