AHDB Beef & Lamb has updated its straw usage guidance, to include advice for farmers on extending straw use this winter. The levy body suggests that the Bedding Materials Directory will help farmers assess bedding options to ensure they are using the most appropriate materials for their livestock this winter.

The hot, dry weather conditions this summer reduced the supply of cereal straw, traditionally the most common bedding material. AHDB points out that there have been concerns over bedding costs or availability in the past, and farmers are already using alternatives. It says the Bedding Materials Directory has been a valuable resource in understanding different bedding materials.

Bedding is a key factor in animal health and welfare, as livestock kept in badly managed housing with poor environmental conditions will not thrive and may be more susceptible to disease. AHDB recommends farmers and their advisers calculate how much straw they have and what they will need as feed or bedding over the winter before they investigate the availability and price of alternatives. The Directory covers materials from cereal straw to miscanthus, with a comparison table to help cross reference different materials.

Katie Thorley, AHDB senior knowledge transfer manager for Beef & Lamb, said: “This summer has been tough on farming with the prolonged periods of dry and hot weather. Farmers will have already started to prepare for the winter and this includes looking at their feed and bedding requirements and reserves.

“For those concerned about shortfalls, the updated bedding materials directory will give farmers an opportunity to identify alternative bedding materials to straw.”

The Bedding Materials Directory is available at beefandlamb.ahdb.org.uk.