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Don’t Feed the Strings

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Agent:  Damon Pollard
Date:  November 5, 2021

This is Damon Pollard, Livestock Agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service-Burke Center. Today’s topic is Don’t Feed the Strings.

When winter comes to us in Burke County, it generally leads us into our hay-feeding regimen. This often means trudging through mud, maybe some snow and ice. Most of us are doing this in the dark and the hay-feeding season is a lot like work.

To speed up our evening chores, we may take short cuts and leave some twine or net wrap on the bales. And it’s highly likely that some of our animals eat at least some of this twine, whether we want to admit it or not.

Some of this twine that’s eaten passes completely through the digestive tract and ends up in manure, but a large amount of it can end up as a tangled up ball that gets stuck in the rumen, especially plastic twine.

A recent survey of veterinarians suggests that deaths from twine blockages isn’t all that common, however, it can limit intake in the rumen, and open up pathways for health problems and compromise the individual animal’s health.

As producers, keeping costs low is of utmost concern. A dead animal, or one whose health is compromised, costs us money. To avoid problems with animals consuming hay bale twine, remember that it doesn’t appear to be a common health concern, but it is still prudent to remove as much twine, especially the plastic twine, as possible before feeding. Anyone who has observed animals feeding on hay with the strings left on, has seen an animal with a string hanging from the side of its mouth, trying to ingest the tail of string dragging along behind, and besides, the string is hard on bush hogs and disc mower bearings, so let’s get it off to start with.

This is Damon Pollard, Livestock Agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service-Burke Center. If you would like more information, call us at 764-9480.