Turning waste wood into a growing sawdust business

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What are dairy farmers looking for when they source sawdust bedding for their cows?

Some farmers want it fine and others prefer a coarse product, but everybody wants dry sawdust, says Pat Liew, business development director of Ecostrat, which markets the cow bedding to farmers across North America.

The company’s been in the paper, plastics and metals industry for 25 years, and eventually found a niche in the wood industry, helping pallet manufacturers, sawmills and cabinet manufacturers figure out what to do with their wood waste and sawdust.

“Eventually, that evolved into us purchasing the sawdust, packaging it and then reselling it back into the market,” says Liew. “We were selling it as a heating fuel for greenhouses. And then we realized there was a huge market for the dairy farmers of Ontario.”

Last month, Liew and his team spent two days talking with dairy farmer customers at the Canadian Dairy XPO in Stratford, Ont. Ecostrat has been supplying Ontario farmers for 10 years, providing a range of products including dry wood shavings, fine wood grinding, wood flour and green sawdust, which it sources in all parts of the province — from Chatham in the west to Cornwall in the east and north to Kirkland Lake.

In this interview with RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin, Liew says dairy farmers have different preferences when it comes to sawdust, but they all demand a dry product, which is key to controlling the potential spread of mastitis from infected cows. Watch the video below.

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