But using repurposed materials to complete tasks previously done by expensive equipment is most definitely a new idea.

Repurposing is the idea to take one product and turn it around and use it for a different purpose without changing it a large amount.

Vinyl covering hayIn its first life, an advertising vinyl is hung up on a billboard printed with a picture of Ronald McDonald or the Walmart starburst we all are familiar with. But in its second life, it can be a compost or hay covering.

This vinyl is a tough, durable fabric that is definitely a creative way to keep your cattle’s next meal covered. According to Bill Jacobs, in Oregon, “They [advertising vinyls] work as well, or better, than purpose-made hay tarps, and they’re a heck of a lot cheaper.”

Street-sweeping brushes, which were once used to sweep the junk off streets, are a unique and slightly strange product that can be repurposed for the care of cattle and horses.


These brushes can be placed vertically in the ground and can act as back scratchers for animals. It may seem like an unusual idea, and it is, but the oddity of this idea makes it no less effective.

Installing rubber conveyor beltsConveyor belts are also a product that can be used in the livestock industry. They can be used as flooring in barns or stables to keep the floors from being damaged by animals that walk across them every day.

Roofing membrane, another rubber material, can be used as a silage pit cover. “Rubber roofing membrane allows me to use fewer tires on our silage pits, making them much faster and easier to cover.

installing rubber conveyor beltThe rubber not only adds weight, it adds a whole layer of protection,” says Alfred Brandt, a farmer in Missouri. “Keeps the raccoons out, too.”

Repurposing tires is not exactly a new idea, as in the past tires have been repurposed as swings and other playground equipment.

But a repurpose for tires in ranching and farming industries is slightly different than turning them into playground equipment. By cutting the large rubber donuts in half, like a bagel, each half can be used as a feeding or drinking station for your animals.

Traditional livestock maintenance tools are extremely expensive. But the thing about repurposed materials being used in place of new products and machines is that they are much cheaper but no less effective.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” And by spending your money on repurposed materials instead of brand-new products for your livestock, you can save yourself that penny.

But repurposing isn’t just good for your wallet and your finances, it’s also good for the planet, keeping tons of waste out of landfills and keeping earth liveable for at least a little longer.

Repurposing is a relatively new idea. It has yet to be embraced by most of the world, but as a rancher or farmer looking to save yourself some money, repurposing is a good idea.

The products previously mentioned may be strange and unusual, but that is part of what makes repurposing an interesting and successful process.  end mark

PHOTO 1: Conveyor belt rubber is used to keep the sides of cattle stalls from being damaged.

PHOTO 2: A vinyl advertising board over hay.

PHOTO 3 & 4: Conveyor belt rubber is used to keep the sides of cattle stalls from being damaged. Photos courtesy of Repurposing Materials Inc.