The importance of straw has changed significantly. What was originally a waste product in grain production has now become an important operating resource. Besides its use as feedstuff, it is primarily used as bedding and activity material, providing the quality is good enough. Requirements are high no matter where it is used.
The main focus is on hygiene conditions, more precisely exposure to germs and mycotoxins. This is because you can always assume that animals will eat a certain amount of hay even when it is used exclusively as litter or activity material. The fungal spores it contains may also cause allergic reactions and put a strain on the respiratory tract. It is well known that straw quality varies greatly from farm to farm and from year to year with weather, storage and harvest conditions having an impact on quality. The type of straw, the harvest year, the growing region, the preceding crop and soil cultivation all have an influence on mycotoxins.
Few people are aware how important straw quality is when putting it to use. It is rarely studied or analysed. Many still believe that sunny, dry weather at harvest and golden, yellow colour mean good quality. However, people often overestimate quality as a result. Straw not only may have significant quality deficiencies, but the content of certain mycotoxins is also sometimes too high. It is not uncommon for mould bacterial counts to exceed above orientation values for germ group 4 (field fungi) and germ group 5 (storage fungi), a clear indication of limited suitability. The result is similar for mycotoxins.
Good harvest conditions and golden colouring are therefore no guarantee for quality straw. That is why farmers should also consider using preservatives for straw to ensure quality. The RaicoSil Straw preservative forms part of the neutral salts group, is thus neither caustic nor corrosive and is dosed in a liquid during the baling process. Studies in barley and wheat straw (see figure below) show that using this type of straw treatment improves hygiene conditions significantly. Its usage managed to reduce mould germ density considerably, for example. The DON levels identified were also lower. Overall, straw treated with RaicoSil Straw maintained better quality and could be used without any restrictions. RaicoSil Straw brings another advantage in that it can be brought in for harvest at just 20 per cent humidity. Fluctuations in residual moisture can never be ruled out, whether it is due to abnormal formation of shoots or something similar. But RaicoSil Straw helps to control such problems more effectively.