1 December 1995

Square bale warning

USING big square bales for bedding can increase the risk of environmental mastitis in cows unless the straw is stored properly, warns Peter Orpin of the British Cattle Veterinary Association.

"With round bales, producers usually discard the outer ring when the bales are wet, but with square bales the straw is packed vertically and rain can run straight through to soak the centre of the bale.

Mr Orpin recommends a simple test to check straw condition.

"When you can sit down on the cubicle or straw yard bedding for five minutes without getting wet, then the bedding is in good condition," he says. "And the solution to wet bedding is not always throwing a layer of dry straw on top. When you replenish bedding on a daily basis, little and often, the bed will be kept much drier."