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Bedding Machines

23 August 2017

I was recently challenged over my dislike of straw bedding machines.  My defence was –

  1. Do they really save straw? Where stock are frequently and luxuriously bedded the answer is definitely yes.  Where straw bedding is already being scrimped the answer is almost certainly no – if similar levels of cleanliness are to be maintained.  The problem is aggravated where straw is chopped.  It’s short length gives less structure to the bed, makes it more consolidated, reduces drainage and almost certainly slows it heating, a critical part of helping to disperse moisture.
  2. Blowing chopped straw into occupied pens –
  • Creates significant dust, aggravating the animal’s lungs and increasing the risk of pneumonia
  • Involves physical damage from stones and other debris hitting stock
  1. The dust/small particles of straw reduce the effectiveness of the building by –
  • Blocking and contaminating water troughs
  • Blocking ventilation inlets and increasing the risk of pneumonia
  1. Bedding with a thin layer of chopped straw effectively prevents animals from selectively eating it. Removing long straw from the animal’s diet –
  • Increases the risk of mild acidosis and hence reduced performance
  • Results in wetter dung, increasing the need for more bedding!
  1. With humans no longer entering the pen to bed, stock become more flighty. This is aggravated by miscellaneous objects being thrown at them each time they are bedded.  Research has shown that nervousness reduces daily liveweight gain and more importantly increases the risk of physical damage to handlers.

I readily accept that bedding machines do eliminate the labour involved in bedding stock but still consider the problem/additional costs to be greater.

Basil Lowman,

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