Baler Ammoniation of Rice Straw-81



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Project Leader and Principal UC Investigators

Don Toenjes, UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor


"Data suggest that baler ammoniation of high moisture rice straw is practical and effective..."

Hesston 9-foot by 8-foot square baler.


Vermeer high-density round baler.

The baler ammoniation study objectives are to determine if the application of ammonia to rice straw during field baling is feasible with existing machinery, and to measure the results of this practice by cattle feeding studies and by laboratory analyses. Data suggest that baler ammoniation of high moisture rice straw is practical and effective when a Vermeer 504 high density round baler is used. Liquid ammonia (-25 F) was applied at 7-inch intervals across the top of high moisture straw moved inward by the baler windrow pickup. The ammoniated bales were stored on the ground next to the feedlots. Most of the bales were uncovered. A few were enclosed in a 6 mil plastic sleeve. The bales retained some ammonia even after 9 months of storage and exposure to relatively high rainfall.

Animal acceptance of the 4-foot by 5-foot high-density round bales indicates that even non-ammoniated rice straw is quite acceptable when fed free choice to beef cattle grazing on irrigated pasture. Ammoniated rice straw was generally preferred over non-treated rice straw. Cattle also preferred the center 75 percent of the uncovered ammoniated bales where changes from the ammonia were more significant. No mold was visible in the interior of the ammoniated bales even after they overwintered in the open.

Observation in the very wet fall of 1981 indicates that neither the Vermeer round baler nor the Hesston 4800 4foot by 8-foot square baler can be used commercially during wet years without extensive modification. In a wet fall, bales also need to be covered to protect them against mold and oxidation if they are not ammoniated.

Feeding and in vitro digestion studies showed that baler ammoniation increased the feed value of rice straw by 30 percent. Ammoniation increased the animal intake of the rice straw by about a third. There were no health problems associated with any of the feeds.

Because rice straw is of low quality, large amounts should not be fed to young cattle expected to gain weight rapidly. It is more suitable as a maintenance ration for mature cattle.


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