Sometimes it really pays off to keep your ears open and to ask what folks are thinking about doing. in this case we are talking about Straw! aka warm bedding..
Normally I buy straw from the same supplier of my hay but he gave me a heads up that this year of 2014, he would not be growing anything, be it wheat or rye that would make straw for me to buy.. so I reserved and bought all he had left from 2013, which he was kind enough to hold for me in his good barn till I was ready for it here on the farm.. I am grateful for it, and I am hopeful that he will have my big square straw bales for 2015 again.
But I had also talked to someone else about being able to get my hands on some small square straw bales, a little tiny bit more in cost but so great for a number of uses, I had thought I would need 50 of them, but then when they had a good yield and I saw the quality, I booked 100 of them.. once I found out that I was getting nothing from my regular source, I asked and was told yes, that I could reserve 150 in total for my winter use.
So glad that I ended up with a secondary source that worked out perfectly, I was able to get them at the same place that I get my wonderful locally grown and ground grains..
In this cold winter weather, the keys to happy animals are threefold
1) Draft protection, they need to be able to get out of the wind.. be it fully in the barn itself, in some of the barn pens, be it in the lean to, which has wind block from three sides and one open side, be it behind the little barn, which is a much favorite place for both the horses and the sheep.. they loaf around in the sun but out of the wind..
2) Feed, yes, that is right, bet you thought I was going to say bedding but nope it is last on that list.. your animals need the right kind of feed for this cold weather, the horses need that hay in front of their face free feed and available 24-7, the hay and digesting it is how they make more heat inside.. yes a little bit of feed, fat is good for them each day as well but its hay that is important.. for the chickens its the hotter feed aka scratch.. that will warm them up, and the adding in of meat protein for them.
Veggie scraps are awesome for the birds, but they are a cooling food, when its Brrrrr baby.. for the hens they need protein, be it given by redworms, or mealworms or sprouted higher protein fodder..
Rabbits are different, you want to increase their ability to work well in the cold, you want to increase their fat intake.. throw a handful of boss on that feed or fat sunflower seeds or home save pumpkin or squash seeds..
3) Bedding.. the bedding is important to all of them, it is what keeps their toes and in some cases their whole bodies from having the cold come up from the floor be it ground or the cement floors in the barns. In most cases, they just lay on the bedding but not all.. give a rabbit a choice and it wants to make a nest, in the case of the pigs, if they get their way, you will not see a single bit of them showing, they will make their nest and be so covered that all you might see is steam and or wiggle in the bedding.
Deep bedding is my winter choice when ever given the possibility.. We will be topping up all beddings tonight as they say, today is the best day temp wise for the next couple days, its calm and not bad outside at the moment but the temps are to drop and drop hard for the next three to four days..
We are prepped to ideally have happy, healthy and content critters that just hunker down and give us grumpy face with fluffed feathers, and poofed fur..
Years ago I worked for lumber mill. All the unusable timber went to a chipper then out to a huge chip truck. The local dairy’s purchased it and put it down very thick (3 ft.deep min.) in the sleep barns. The cows loved laying on top of it and as it slowly decomposed it put off heat to help keep them warm. In the morning at milking time all the cows gather to get milked and are put into a different area , where they still can eat or turned out to pasture, while their bedding is getting top cleaned. More chip is added if need be. It keeps the cows and their feet dry and their udders clean plus it makes future compost for the farm to sell. Links:
Click to access pd2008aprilp37.pdf
Yup, yup, a version of this is what I call my deep pack method, works really well
Funny thing, huh? No one likes to be cold; )