With the pressure on harvesting and clearing fields, a lot of straw is being baled damp. A lot will end up mouldy with the risk of a range of mycotoxins increasing the risk of respiratory disease in both stock and workers. In some cases the moulds will be so extreme that they bind the layers together making it impossible to shred the bales so they cannot be used even for bedding.
One way to avoid damp straw moulding in the bale is to apply propionic acid as a preservative. Examples would be Bale Save, Propcorn or Propcorn NC marketed by Kelvin Cave etc. With an additive cost of around £10 per tonne of straw this would be a sound investment where straw was being baled for animal feed. It could also perhaps be justified for some straw targeted for bedding newborn lambs and calves next spring, providing them with both more effective and less contaminated bedding. An alternative where straw is being fed would be ammonia treatment but it would need the bales to be covered to keep the gas in.
With straw already costing over £70 per tonne a saving of just 15% in wastage etc would more than pay for the cost of applying the additive.
Basil Lowman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign up to the FAS newsletter
Receive updates on news, events and publications from Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service