Challenged straw supplies last year and high cereal prices are putting pressure on bedding supplies, with farmers being urged to book provisions now.

Farmers can look to alternatives, but must consider properties other than just cost when making their decision.

Speaking to Farmers Weekly, Richard Simpson of Kingshay said cost was just one factor when buying bedding. “The cheapest option isn’t always the best option. There are a number of factors you need to consider such as drainage, slurry system, local supply and whether you are cubicle or loose housed.”

Mr Simpson said cubicles containing a solid mat or mattress would suit a bedding option like sand or sawdust due to their ability to hold moisture, whereas bedding options such as miscanthus are free draining, so would not suit such conditions.

“When picking your bedding option think about what material is going to help maintain a clean and dry bed and will be best at preventing a build-up of bacterial loads.”

Breakdown of bedding costs    
 Bedding  Price a tonne (£)  Average quantity used/day/cow (kg) Cost a cow/day (£) 
 Paper waste 1 with K lime  44  2  8.8
 Paper waste 2  95  0.9 8.55 
 Sawdust  100  0.9  9
 Sand  16  9.6  15.36
 Shavings  100  1.8  18
 Straw  100  2.1  21
  *Provided by Kingshay. Prices vary by region and suppliers.

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