Sunday is bedding day here on the farm. It’s the day that we top up all the animal pens and sleeping areas with fresh straw.
Straw is the stem and leaves of a grain plant. We grow barley for the pigs, and when harvesting, the combine drops the stalks on the ground behind after the grain is taken off. We then go with the balers – large round and small square – and bale it all up for winter use.
Straw is perfect for bedding as it has good insulation and keeps the animals warm. The combines always throw some grain with the chaff and all the animals love to graze in the straw bales for any treats. Doing this spreads the bale out for everyone to enjoy and nestle down in at night. The layering of straw and animal manure causes the pile to heat which warms them from the bottom.
In the spring we go in with the loader tractor and manure spreader. Most fresh manure g gets spread directly on our hay, pasture and grain land where it quickly decomposes. We also add some in a compost pile for the market garden. After a few years it looks like black dirt which is then spread on the garden. Manure is an excellent fertilizer which contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and many other nutrients. The organic matter is great for the soil as it helps with aeration and moisture holding. 75-90% of the plant nutrients pass through the animals which is then returned to the cropland to help grow more crops. Sustainable agriculture at it’s finest.