Straw provides many benefits when added to cattle feed. It is important, however, to include it in servings in a correct way and with adequate proportions. It should be, also, taken into account your livestock’s needs and the characteristics of the straw itself.

Which is the best straw for livestock?

If we think of it looking at its physical qualities, the best alternative is “hollow” straw. This type of straw contributes to feed fermentation in the rumen. Moreover, they are not as tough as other kinds of straw.

Now looking into their nutritional value, barley straw and wheat straw are two of the most digestive ones. They are also the most accepted among livestock if we compare them with, for example, legume straw. There are, nevertheless, other factors that influence directly on the straw being fondly perceived by livestock, them being:

  • Protein
  • Humidity
  • FAD
  • FND
  • VRF

These five parameters are crucial for straw quality and how it is perceived by cattle. 

Benefits of feeding straw to livestock

As we puntualized before, straw is suitable for livestock provided that we take into account variables such as: their nutritional needs, what’s best for the product we expect to get from the animal, and straw quality and how long it has been since it was harvested.

For example, if stored correctly, the most digestible straw is the one that is about one year old, which is even more easily digestible than fresh straw.

Some of the benefits of including straw in our livestock’s diet are: 

  • When chopped correctly, it becomes an important source of effective fibre, cause it contributes to forming the alimentary bolus and to keeping the digestive system on optimal conditions
  • Being low in energy content, it can be used to dilute maize silage rations (in heifers’ or dry cows’ diet)
  • It is also low in protein, so as in the previous case, it can be used to dilute high protein legume diets, or in very tender and manured pastures
  • According to NRC 2001, wheat straw with 1.5% potassium, 0.3% calcium and 0.10% phosphorus can be used in dry cow rations where K and P excess is a problem
  • In high moisturized rations it helps to increase dry matter, which contributes to improve food intake
  • If grass silos are very wet, straw helps in the mixing of the ingredients, as it helps to form a fluffy mixture that avoids the formation of balls

If you need advice or would like more information about our straw, please feel free to contact us.