Shredded Straw Bedding

Recently we purchased a Wallenstein BXM Chipper Shredder to help with chipping all the trees and scrub brush we took down in our soon to be new orchard area. When considering buying a chipper we thought about going all out and getting the shredder to see if we could make our own livestock bedding.

If you’ve read my past posts about my experiences with different types of bedding you’ll know my distain for straw. I just hate picking through traditional straw bedding.  The waste is just awful, it takes me much longer to muck a stall and once I get it out to the manure pile it takes forever and a day to compost.  The price of straw vs. the wood pellet bedding I’m using now is night and day and right now I need to bring down the cost of doing business.

In comes the shredder.  I’ve read about how shredded straw composts faster and is used at some dairy farms and also by mushroom farmers.  So I decided to give it a try.  I purchased a 500lb bale of straw for $40 and fired up the shredder.  We aimed the shoot into our little red TSC dump trailer, stood up wind from the shredding and let her rip.  3.5 of the big flakes of straw filled the dump trailer really quickly and  it filled one of our 11×11 stalls.  1 trailer full gave a great 4-6” deep bedding and covered the whole stall evenly.  For comparison 4 ($7) bags of wood pellets gave me the same results.  That’s $28 for pellets vs $8 for shredded straw. At this point I have a really big smile on my face.

With pellet bedding I have to add 1-2 bags per week for a stall with a mare and foal.  There’s very little waste and I only have to take out the soiled areas.  I know from past experience that with traditional straw bedding 3 flakes of straw would give me nice bedding but I had to strip the bed every day and add another 3 flakes.  How would the shredded straw do?

Shredding the straw brought down the stalk size to 2-3 inches in length and even broke the stalk open so it no longer was a tube.  The result is a very light fluffy bedding that sifts right through my favorite Dura stall fork just like wood shavings would.  It doesn’t fall though like pellet bedding but with a few shakes of the fork the horse apples remain and the clean bedding falls through.  Pee areas are sucked up nicely and are easy to spot and scoop up with minimal waste.  I managed to pick through 3 stalls using just 1 wheelbarrow! Try that with traditional straw bedding!

Shredded Straw

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