Straw as litter

Straw, when mixed with the dung and the urine of cattle, horses, etc. etc., is a rich and excellent manure; but even alone, when ploughed in, or decomposed by pure simple water, it is of use. All the various sorts of straw answer the purposes of litter. Some farmers contend that ryestraw is the best litter; others prefer the straw of wheat, which absorbs, it is said, so much urine and moisture, that a cart of wheat-straw is supposed equal in value to three carts of well-made dung. In England the straw of peas and beans is extremely valuable, forming, it is said when well broken by threshing, a desirable litter for working-horses, hogs, and other stock, but in Scotland it is never used as litter, unless it has been spoilt by bad management or a most unseasonable season in harvest, as its feeding properties there are so well known. Littering is of use, not only for converting straw into manure, but for keeping the animals warm and dry. In fact cattle cannot be soiled on clover, or fed on turnips, without abundance of litter.

There are four modes of converting straw into dung by littering stock:-1. In stalls or stables; 2. In hammels; 3. In fold-yards; and 4. In open folds, where sheep are littered with straw.

The quantity of dung produced from a given quantity of straw depends a good deal upon the kind of straw that is used (as some kinds absorb much more moisture than others), and upon the degree of care employed in preparing the dung. Speaking generally, the original weight of straw may be tripled, if the manufacturing process be properly conducted, and the dung applied to the ground before its powers are lessened or exhausted. The quantity of dung which may be made from an acre, especially if the dung arising from clover, turnips, and hay, consumed on a farm, is included in the general stock, will be something more than four tons; consequently any farm of decent soil may be manured at the rate of twelve tons per acre, every third year, from its own produce, provided the corn crops are cut with accuracy and the straw manufactured into dung in a husbandman-like manner.

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