Question of the Week
I’m building stalls for sheep and goats. What can I use to treat the wood that won’t be toxic to the animals?
Answer: Pure linseed oil would be a good choice—it has been used as a wood preservative for centuries. Linseed oil is non-toxic to sheep or horses. In fact, it is sometimes used in sheep and cattle rations as a source of energy and Omega 3 fatty acids. Raw linseed oil has a slower drying time than boiled linseed oil but does not contain synthetic solvents.
Linseed oil soaks in best if you warm it to around 110 degrees Fahrenheit and apply it with the board lying horizontally. Apply it to all sides of the boards, with a heavy coating on the edges. This is where the weathering will affect the board the most.
Raw linseed oil has a slower drying time than boiled linseed oil but does not contain synthetic solvents. Linseed oil treatments may require repeated applications every three or four years. The treated wood can be painted after the linseed oil fully cures.
To learn more, consult the ATTRA publication Pressure Treated Wood: Organic and Natural Alternatives, available at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=73. This publication includes a discussion of currently used materials, lumber treatments using less-toxic materials, decay-resistant lumber species, and an explanation of the National Organic Program Regulations.
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