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Water holding capacity and evaporative loss from organic bedding materials used in livestock facility

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  131595738,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   Mindy J. Spiehs, Tami M. Brown-Brandl, Jeffrey P. Jaderborg, Alfredo DiCostanzo, Joesph L. Purswell, Jeremiah D. Davis
Keywords:   Bedding, water holding capacity, evaporative water loss, corn stover, bean stover, wheat straw, switch grass, corn cobs, wood chips, paper

Physical and chemical characteristics of organic bedding materials determine how well they will absorb and retain moisture and may influence the environment in livestock facilities where bedding is used. The objective of this study was to determine water holding capacity (WHC) and rate of evaporative water loss (EWL) of organic materials used as bedding in livestock facilities. Corn stover, soybean stover, wheat straw, switch grass, paper, corn cobs, and wood (pine and cedar) were evaluated; coarse, medium, and fine particle sizes of each bedding material were measured. The WHC was determine by submerging bedding materials in permeable nylon containers for 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, and 30 min, and 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 24, 48, and 72 hours. The evaporative loss was determined by saturating the bedding materials in water for 72 hr and recording the mass at 0, 4, 8, 12, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 60, and 72 hr after drying in a 100 °C forced-air oven. With the exception of paper, the finely ground particles had higher WHC (P < 0.05) than the medium or coarsely ground particles of the same material. Among the bedding materials, corn stover (3.6 g g-1) and wheat straw (3.6 g g-1) had the highest WHC, followed by green cedar (3.2 g g-1) dry cedar (3.0 g g-1) and pine (3.0 g g-1). Switch grass and corn cobs absorbed the least amount of water (1.6 and 2.2. g g-1, respectively). After 72 hr of drying, all bedding materials except corn cobs contained > 98% dry matter.

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