Why should you consider wood chip bedding?

This year’s shortage of bedding-quality straw is a fact. There are multiple reasons that have led to its unprecedented scarcity. Poor weather conditions during harvesting seem an obvious reason. This, however, was followed by dry spring. If you add strong demand from renewable energy plants, you have a recipe for the situation that we are in at the moment. So what can you do? Fortunately, you can use alternative bedding. We have prepared a comparison of some options, including wood chip bedding, so have a look below.

Comparison of livestock bedding

Wood chip

Absorbency 159.6ml/litre | 100-120sq m coverage at 5cm depth per 1 tonne

Advantages

Reusable throughout multiple seasons, clean.

Disadvantages

Requires dry storage. Must use highest quality wood chip for animal welfare.

Worth knowing

Use wood chip below 30% moisture to manage bacterial growth.

Sawdust

Absorbency 159.6ml/litre | 800sq m coverage at 10cm depth per 27 tonnes

Advantages

Comfortable and clean solution, ideal for deep littering.

Disadvantages

Requires regular maintenance – dry matter decreases after absorbing urine.

Worth knowing

Consider dealing with damp, moulds, and bacterial growth.

Paper

Highly absorbent | Beef & sheep require a 10cm depth at start of winter. Cows need 200kg per cow each winter

Advantages

Easy to store and dispose of.

Disadvantages

Must be removed if paper gets wet or sets hard.

Worth knowing

If wet allows pathogens to flourish. If clumped and be difficult to spread.

Crushed-husks

6-8% moisture content | 800sq m coverage at 10cm depth per 27 tonnes

Advantages

Easy maintenance. Can be mixed with other products such as lime.

Disadvantages

Requires dry storage conditions
and anti-bacterial bedding powder.

Worth knowing

Easy disposal on land. Doesn’t set hard on beds and remains free flowing for cow comfort.

Lime – Calcium carbonate

Highly absorbent | 500g usage per cubicle bed per day

Advantages

No bacterial growth.

Disadvantages

Highly alkaline, may cause scalding of livestock teats or noses.

Worth knowing

Can be spread on fields but advisable to analyse soils first because of its alkaline nature.

Sand

Absorbency 0.3 litre/kg | 7.5-10kg per cow per day

Advantages

Clean, dust-free and well-drained bed. Good for deep-litter beds.

Disadvantages

Can accelerate wear in slurry handling equipment and concrete surfaces. Also will stick to teats, udder and wear hooves.

Worth knowing

Can be spread on the land, but be aware of long-term effect on soil pH.

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