Straw Provides Low Cost Livestock Shelter

Ever-rising construction costs and high interest rates needn't keep your livestock out in the cold. An old-time shed like this, made of straw piled on a framework of posts and chicken wire, can provide fully adequate winter shelter for very little cost.

"This shed should last at least 10 years," Nebraska farmer Adam Nagel, of Davey, told FARM SHOW. His new straw shed is large enough to hold his 25 beef cows with calves. Inside measure is 25 by 24 ft., and the back; both sides and part of the front are fully enclosed. "The cattle have just enough room to go in and come out."

Nagel bundled, tied, and threshed straw from last year's 15-acre oat crop which partially covered the shed. He finished it this past summer with 1981-crop oats straw. He prefers oats to wheat straw. "Besides being a good insulator, it's good feed. If I ever run out of feed, I can let the cattle eat the shed."

Using a 1938 Case threshing machine, Nagel trained the straw blower spout onto the shed. He figures he used a total of about 25 tons of straw to build his straw shelter.

"You don't necessarily have to own a threshing machine or binder to build yourself a straw shed," Nagel points out. "You could bale the straw, then chop up bales and blow them onto the shed with a silo blower or forage chopper," he suggests. He feels that corn residue, including the shucks, would work okay if it were shredded or chopped first.

"I used discarded telephone poles, chicken wire and hog-type fence that I got free. The only money I spent was to have the holes dug in the ground for the upright poles. It did take some labor," Nagel points out.

When finished, he erected a hog-type fence around the back, side and part of the front of the shed "to keep cattle, kids and dogs off it. You need to do that to make it last."

Now that his low-cost straw shed is finished, Nagel is ready for winter, which he predicts is going to be tough this year. "You can tell by the corn shucks. When corn has a lot of shucks, it means a cold winter."