Don't Eat The Net Wrap

Remove the net wrap from round hay bales so the cattle won’t eat it. Many producers leave it on because it’s plastic and shouldn’t be palatable. But never underestimate a curious or bored cow that’s looking for something to chew on.

Wes Lee is an Extension ag educator at Oklahoma State University. He says when an animal swallows net wrap, it’s hard to differentiate between a real illness and damage from plastic in their stomach.

"Probably the most commonly reported symptom would be weight loss or wasting away over a fairly long period of time, a loss of appetite. Diarrhea, because of the net wrap blockage in the digestive system only liquids maybe can make it through. If there’s no bowel movements at all it could be impaction of the plastic and therefore it would create a bloating issue," says Lee. "They’re possibly not able to belch because of that impaction in there."

Is baling twine an issue as well? Lee says North Dakota State University did a study on the digestion of twine going through cattle. They put the material into the rumen, and looked at it 14-days later to see what was digested and what wasn’t.

"The sisal twine was being digested, about 70% of it, according to their study, was broken down," says Lee. "The biodegradable twine, the plastic twine, and the plastic net wrap did not biodegrade at all. It was still 100% inside the rumen. The biodegradable twine is broken down by sunlight, or UV light. There’s none of that inside the rumen so therefore it wouldn’t be any different than a plastic twine."