University of Delaware Tests Switchgrass as Alternative Animal Bedding

May 22, 2014 |Grinders In Action

Increasing shortages of traditional animal bedding sources are creating a need for alternative bedding materials. The need for bedding alternatives also creates a need for grinding equipment to convert these raw materials to bedding with the right particle size and texture. The need for animal bedding alternatives has led researchers with the University of Delaware to switchgrass. The challenge of grinding switchgrass to the right particle has size led them to Rotochopper.

Adapted with permission from an article by the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension.

Benefits & Challenges of Switchgrass

Switch grass is appealing as an alternative bedding source because it thrives in marginal soils. Switchgrass also poses a noticeable challenge, however, being difficult to grind to the right particle size for animal bedding.

Grinding Switchgrass for Poultry Bedding

University of Delaware Cooperative Extension agent Bill Brown is working closely with a local poultry farm to evaluate the effectiveness of ground up switchgrass for chicken bedding. In the farm trial, a Rotochopper horizontal grinder is being used to grind baled switchgrass to one inch minus bedding for a field comparison to traditional bedding of pine shavings. The Rotochopper grinder used in the trial is owned and operated by a local customer grinding company that specializes in grinding bales for animal bedding and feed.

“With tub grinders and other type of grinder instruments, we get a lot more of the rogue or longer pieces."

Switchgrass Animal Bedding Brown notes that the ideal animal bedding material is absorbent and uniform in size. If bedding contains oversized pieces, these larger fibers collect at the top of the bedding, while the smaller particles sink to the bottom. The oversized pieces then mat down and form a crust, which prevents air flow and absorption. Essentially, a top layer of crust formed by oversized pieces renders most of the bedding useless. “With tub grinders and other type of grinder instruments, we get a lot more of the rogue or longer pieces,” Brown states.

Brown and fellow researchers are excited about the potential of switchgrass to help fill the need for non-traditional bedding materials. “We are in need of a sustainable, renewable and reliable bedding source” says Brown. “Many traditional sources of bedding are no longer available.”

Learn More

This field trial involves just one alternative bedding source currently in use or commercial testing. The need for animal bedding is already driving the demand for animal bedding made by processing wood waste with industrial grinding equipment .

To learn more about this field study, check out the original article .

To learn how Rotochopper grinders convert diverse feedstocks into animal bedding, contact your regional Rotochopper representative .