Utilizing Waste Cardboard for Livestock Bedding on Small Farms
This first year of my grant project has been a series of disasters and health crises, resulting in very little being accomplished.
A local company owns a large commercial chipper/shredder which was one of the machines we intended to use as an initial trial for shredding cardboard. In August, our local trail authority was brushing trails and using this machine. A large metal piece flew off the machine, killing one of the workers. The machine was seized by the police department for an investigation.
I then located a smaller chipper/shredder owned by a private company and used for maintaining cross country ski trails. Arrangements were made to use this machine in October. In September, the owner was diagnosed with a major heart problem and told to undergo open heart surgery soon. Successful surgery was performed in November, however Mr. Anderson’s activities were limited until surgery and afterward and we were unable to use this machine. We expect to be able to use it as soon as our local cross country ski season comes to an end, probably by the middle of April at the latest.
In November, I began suffering increasing stiffness, pains, and fatigue. The first of December a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis was confirmed. I have been under the care of a rheumatologist since then and on medication. Although I still suffer from some stiffness and pain, my mobility has gotten better and I expect to be better able to handle extra work and chores as spring arrives. Throughout the winter, many days it was a chore just to complete daily barn chores and house chores. Going out to get loads of cardboard and standing out in the cold to try out different shredding methods was not an option for me.
In January, I made arrangements for a Gleason, Wisconsin used farm implement dealer to do a small trial run of shredding cardboard in a bedding chopper he owned. He was to deliver a couple of bags of the shredded cardboard to me when he delivered a haybine my son had purchased from him. The trial run was done, however the bags were inadvertently thrown away by a worker before they were delivered to me. Mr. Mattson did report that, though the bedding chopper shredded the cardboard, it was VERY slow and the cardboard mostly came out as ‘fluff’. Thus my initial conclusion is that this is probably NOT a viable machine for shredding cardboard and I will pursue other methods before experimenting more with this machine. The ‘fluff’ cardboard may be useable in loose housing in some barns but does not show a lot of promise for most barns.
I have attempted to arrange a trial run with a commercial tree trimming business and their large shredder truck. However, the first company I contacted went out of business and sold his truck. Two other companies operate in our area but did not contact me back before winter set in and their machinery has been put away for the winter. I expect to be possibly able to try this method in late March or early April.
I have not located a large bale shredder to try near our farm. I believe my best option with this machine may be to have an out-of-the-area dealer make a small trial run for me and report on results.
At this point, we have not used any of the grant funds yet, as the Wisconsin dealer did not charge for the small trail run he made. And we have yet to have a product to try in an actual bedding application.
Results to date indicate that:
1) finding machines to shred cardboard is VERY difficult
2) many local companies do not run chipper/shredders in the wintertime, meaning even if a suitable machine is found, a farm MAY have to have a large quantity of cardboard shredded and stored for winter use. This may limit the convenience of using cardboard seriously enough as to make it NOT feasible on many farms.
3) The machine most likely to be available to farmers, the small bale chopper, is probably NOT a viable machine for chopping used cardboard.
WORK PLAN FOR 2010
We will continue to make trail runs with various machines. Any chopped/shredded bedding product that shows ANY possibilities for use in any type of animal housing will be trial tested in a small trial.
Should a shredded cardboard product be obtained that shows good possibilities, a sufficient amount will be obtained to allow a long term (week or weeks) use in one or more animal facilities; equine box stalls, loose calf housing, tie stalls in dairy barns, tie stalls in a small fed cattle operation and for 4-H steers, box stalls for 4-H steers, small pig pens, etc.
To date, we have not had much information to share. Our plans do include sharing information with farmers, horse owners, etc., through field days, equine expos, the internet (facebook, our own webpage, UpperMichiganHorses.com, and more) local and regional farm and equine newsletters and magazines, and our local Extension Offices.