A Little Water, Lime, and Straw…anddd Wah-lah!

This last weekend when I went home, I got the pleasure of getting to help make “Hydrated Lime Straw!” I know your first thought, “what in the world is that?!?” Don’t worry, that was my first question when my dad told me about it! Seems simple enough… just a little water, some lime (I mean who doesn’t love a good limeade), and a straw! Dad informed me that it wasn’t quite that simple or tasty (to me anyway!) …shucks.

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Let’s get down to the basics of what this “not so simple summer drink is.” Hydrated Lime, maybe more commonly known as Calcium hydroxide, is a white powder that is similar to “quick lime” but much less dangerous and less likely to start a fire! (Amen to that! I don’t think dad would be impressed if it all went up in flames.)

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Now what about this “straw?” I am talking about the kind that you get after wheat is harvested! It is the leftover part of the plant that doesn’t have the seed on it. This is sometimes known as wheat stubble. Straw has many different uses. It can be used to bed livestock (give them a warm place to lay), be mixed in with other feeds to be consumed, and even used to make brooms! While straw is not the only roughage that you can use to do this (cornstalks and many other low quality roughages can be used) it is what we used when I went home.

What is the recipe to make this tasty meal? I’ll tell you!

Ground roughage of some kind! (straw, cornstalks, etc)

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You will need to have your roughage tested for the moisture content. Our straw had 5% moisture so our combination is 7% lime, 50% water, and 50% straw.

You maybe wondering..how do they get more than 100%? Keep reading!

For the feed truck we were using this day, we added two (2) fifty pound bags of lime to the truck with enough straw to fill it to the 50% point.

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The next stop is the “watering hole.” Here we use the yellow hose you can see on the side of the truck to add water.

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(I know, the water looks gross! Don’t worry, our drinking water is NOT that color. This is pond water that comes from a pond just over the hill!)

Now the truck does the mixing while you drive.

There are several different ways to store this but we choose to pile it on the ground uncovered because it gets used as quickly as we can make it!

Now that we have arrived at the spot to unload it, we will add it to the other piles that we have mixed today.

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Once we finish for the day, we will push it all into one big pile where it will remain untouched for at least seven days. Why? The chemical reaction that happens between the water and Calcium hydroxide will begin to break down the cellulose, lignin, and hemi-celluose (all found in the straw) so it will be more digestible for the cattle to eat.(The pH level is also very important but we won’t get into that 🙂 ) They will be able to gain more nutrients from this compared to just mixing straw into their feed and this is a great way to replace corn silage, sorghum silage, etc.

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And the best part… they love it! 🙂

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Explore posts in the same categories: Agricultural Issues, Life Back Home, Random, Uncategorized

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