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Script 34.4

Script

Do you burn your straw because you think it is useless? By treating straw with ashes you can make ash straw which is a good livestock feed. Livestock that eat ash straw will gain more weight and be healthier.

By itself, straw is a poor feed for animals because it is hard to digest and it is low in nutrients. Treating straw with ashes adds minerals and nutrients that are good for your livestock and makes the straw tasty. Ash straw is easier for livestock to digest than regular straw and they do well on it.

Here is a way to make straw into suitable animal feed.
The first step is to make ash tea using kitchen ashes. If you cook over a fire or on a wood stove then you will have plenty of ashes. Collect your kitchen ashes and store them in a dry place. You do not have to remove the charcoal and wood pieces from the ash. Kitchen ashes are the best to use. Hot fires, such as forge fires, burn the goodness out of the ashes.

You will need two containers. The first container will be used for mixing the ashes and it should be large enough to hold ten litres of water. The second container must be large enough to hold one hundred litres. In the small container, mix one kilogram of ashes with ten litres of water. Stir the solution so it is well mixed and let the solution sit until the solids settle on the bottom. The solution will be brownish and look like tea. Pour the ash tea into the large container leaving the sediment behind. Add another ten litres of water to the sediment in the small container and stir. Again, let the sediment settle and pour the ash tea into the large container. Repeat the process eight more times, each time letting the solids settle and pouring off the tea. After mixing water and ashes ten times you should have 100 litres of ash tea.

Chop your straw into small pieces. This will make the treatment work even better. Place the straw in a net or cloth bag. Soak the bag of straw in the ash tea. When the straw is completely wet, hang the bag above the tea container to let the ash tea drip back into the container so you don’t waste any of the tea. You could also use a watering can to put the ash tea on the straw, but you will lose some of the tea this way because the excess will just run into the ground.

Let the ash straw dry completely. When your ash straw is completely dry it will be brittle and have a bright yellow colour. Because it is a dry food your livestock will be thirsty. So make sure that your livestock also have plenty of drinking water.

Livestock that eat ash straw will gain more weight and be healthier. You and your livestock can get more out of useless straw and kitchen ashes by making ash straw.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Dr. David Mowat, Department of Animal Science, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, for his help with this script.

Information Sources

This script is based on an article titled Pajeniza, in Intercambio Regional: Intercambio de Experiencias e Informacion Técnica, No. 29. January April 1993, (pages 8 9). Heifer Project, Solitario de Sayan 442, Urbanización Maranga, Lima 32, Peru.