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Bedding varieties

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NitaiS

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Hello. We are having a major problem with bedding for our calves. We are up in Northern CA and it is very cold, and very wet. we have no pasture and all our cows are inside various structures with access to outside at all times.

Anyway, we have been traditionally using wheat straw, but my theory is that for the past year-ish the quality of the feed has decreased (you know, money issues) and now they almost always eat all their bedding. Covering straw with wood shavings has been pretty good, but too expensive to maintain unless we find a mill that will give them for cheap (or free!).

I did some research and found that people use sand. I was wondering if anyone has experience with this and coul testify to its efficacy, or lack thereof. We are really in a bind.
 

dun

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The purpose of bedding is 2 fold. Warmth/insulation from the ground and cleanliness. Sand won;t do anything for the warmth and it's no cleaner then dry dirt.
 

LoveMoo11

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Sand probably isn't very useful outside, but people use it in freestall barns. Wood shavings are what we use in our three sided pole barn and those have always worked well, if you can get them. Up here they have become really hard to get because of all the new wood pellet manufacturers buying them up. If they have good feed they shouldn't be eating much of their straw. Old hay works too.
 

jka300

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Sand won't work. It can still get wet which can cause your animals to get dirty and also it won't provide any warmth either. Wood shaving are really good too but also have their drawbacks. Acouple of years ago, straw was hard to find in our area because of a wet fall, we started to use canola straw. It was way cheaper than normal straw and worked just as good. The best part was the cow didn't like to eat it. Best thing to do is feed them more or get better quality hay because the way it sounds, they are hungry.
 

cowman30

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jka300":fb0e679e said:
Sand won't work. It can still get wet which can cause your animals to get dirty and also it won't provide any warmth either. Wood shaving are really good too but also have their drawbacks. Acouple of years ago, straw was hard to find in our area because of a wet fall, we started to use canola straw. It was way cheaper than normal straw and worked just as good. The best part was the cow didn't like to eat it. Best thing to do is feed them more or get better quality hay because the way it sounds, they are hungry.

Id be hungry to if I had to stay inside all day with no grass to eat if i was a cow. They are not feeding them enough obviously.
 

msscamp

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NitaiS":1azznyy6 said:
Hello. We are having a major problem with bedding for our calves. We are up in Northern CA and it is very cold, and very wet. we have no pasture and all our cows are inside various structures with access to outside at all times.

Anyway, we have been traditionally using wheat straw, but my theory is that for the past year-ish the quality of the feed has decreased (you know, money issues) and now they almost always eat all their bedding. Covering straw with wood shavings has been pretty good, but too expensive to maintain unless we find a mill that will give them for cheap (or free!).

I did some research and found that people use sand. I was wondering if anyone has experience with this and coul testify to its efficacy, or lack thereof. We are really in a bind.

What are you feeding them, how much and how often? How much do these animals weigh? I don't mean to sound harsh, but it sounds like it might be time to re-evaluate whether you can afford to have these animals. All animals will eat a certain amount of straw bedding, but when they are eating all of the bedding that is a pretty good indication that they are hungry. In that case, the owner needs to re-evaluate what is being fed, how much is being fed, and how often.

As far as wood shavings for bedding goes, you might google timber/lumber mills in your area. Another option would be to google wood shavings for your area. If you can find a lumber mill that sells direct to the public, it will dramatically reduce your price. We run a horse boarding business and were paying anywhere from 7.75 to 8.25 a bag locally until I found a mill in the northern part of the state. We can get wood shavings from them for 5.25/bag. We purchased 8 pallets, and the price difference more than made up for the fuel to drive up and get them.
 

jka300

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COWS WILL EAT WOOD CHIPS!!!!! I personally don't have any experience in this but another farmer from around here does. Just last month, a guy had his cow taken away because he wasn't feeding them. One of my friends said that this guy started off in the fall with 150 bales of hay and about 50 bales of straw for about 80 head of cattle. Quick math tells me that won't even last 4 months with even feeding straw. I guess this guy was using wood chips as bedding and the cow would actually eat them. He set up a electric fence around all of his fences so the cows wouldn't eat the boards off the fence!!! At first I didn't believe my buddy until I went with him to help haul the cows away. There aren't any words to describe what I saw.
I think he is going to jail for cruelty to animal, hope he's in there for along time. One thing I don't get though is why it wasn't in the news but I guess it was way to graphic for the general public. Or they just want to keep it quiet so that family don't get tarred and feathered.
 

spoon

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My neighbor with a dairy uses oak wood shavings from a whiskey barrel factory down the road. They don'y look like what I think of as a shaving, i.e., short curled up thin pieve of wood but rather more like wood that has been ground off into small pieces. Doesn't really look like something I would use but it's probabaly cheap.
 

Ms Callie

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Hi, new here and just want to know about bedding as its very cold here!
 

Bigfoot

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When I have to bed, I use corn stalks. They will eat some leaves, but pretty well leave the stalks alone. They don't seem to mash down in the muck, as bad as straw.
 

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