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A new tire slicer for Vermont dairy farmers could cut down on mosquitoes

A woman in an orange puffy jacket stands with her back turned at a yellow machine. Dozens of tires are stacked up behind her.
Patti Casey
Vermont Agency of Agriculture
At a tire recycling event in Barre last month, workers cut up hundreds of tires. It's part of an effort to replace tires used on farms in Vermont and get rid of millions of mosquitoes that carry diseases like West Nile.

Lots of dairy farmers use tires to weigh down tarps covering winter feed for their cows, like hay and chopped up corn. Old tires work well for the job because they’re heavy and often free. But they’re also a hassle — tires are hard to move and store, they fill up with dirty water, and can spread disease.

“They breed mosquitoes like crazy,” said Patti Casey, who runs a state program to track mosquitoes and ticks.

”The mosquito species that really like to breed in tires are primary vectors of West Nile virus,” she added.

Last week, Casey led a project with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture to offer farmers some 2,000 tire sidewalls for free.

The state purchased a tire slicer recently, and at a recent fundraiser called Wheels for Warmth in Barre, they cut up hundreds of tires that would otherwise have gone to a landfill.

Since advertising the tire sidewalls, which farmers can stack in a pile on top of their tarps, they’ve had dozens of calls.

“I also had a couple text messages and they were like, 'I’d like 200 of these right now please,'” said Casey. “Somebody else called and said, ‘I’ll take all of them.’”

Casey thinks this batch of tire sidewalls will meet the needs of three or four farmers at smaller operations.

Going forward, she’d like to lend out the tire cutter to farmers directly, so they can slice up existing tires on site.

“My goal is to have every farm in Vermont using sidewalls someday,” she said. “It’s kind of a pipe dream, but that would just be amazing.”

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or contact reporter Lexi Krupp:


Lexi covers science and health stories for Vermont Public.
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