AHDB has released a checklist to give farmers practical advice on how to manage if affected by a lack of straw this winter.

The checklist includes tips for feeding, bedding and general straw management with advice aimed at the dairy, beef and lamb sectors. There are also options for pig bedding, which analyses current options and lesser used alternatives – such as woodchip and shredded paper.

AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager Gavin Dick said the team behind the checklist were keen to pack in as much practical advice as possible.

He explained: “We know from speaking to farmers and NFUS that people are really concerned about coping with very little straw over the winter. Of course farmers will already be working on different ways to plug any gaps, but we hope this advice sheet will give them a few more options to consider.

“Some tips will work for some farmers but not for others, but there should be something there for everyone.”

As ever, the advice sheet highlights that attention to detail will be key, from accurately forecasting straw requirements (both for bedding and feed), to ensuring there is no potential for dampness to creep in (through any leaks or poor ventilation), as well as how to make your bedding straw stocks last longer through little and often applications.

There are also tips on selling stock early, or culling poorly performing stock, as well as maximising growth rates of retained stock to make the most of the available feed.

The new guidance on pig unit bedding notes that while barley and wheat straws are often favoured there are other alternatives such as shredded paper, which is cheap, dust-free and works especially well in the farrowing house.

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick, commented: “Through our 12-week straw and feed campaign we have been encouraging farmers and crofters to assess their business needs, plan ahead and look at alternatives following a prolonged dry spell earlier in the summer.

“This factsheet from AHDB, a direct result of the industry stakeholder summit we organised on 1 August, may help to provide some with clarity and advice on what they should be doing when it comes to straw.”

Both advice sheets ‘Checklist for making best use of limited straw stocks’ and ‘Alternative bedding for pigs’ can be found on AHDB’s Drought Hub – ahdb.org.uk/drought.