Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension




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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
June 29, 2000

Forage Supply a Concern for 2000/01

Producers are becoming more and more concerned about the amount of hay being harvested from the spring growth of 2000. Numerous reports indicated 50-60% available for harvest compared to the normal expected amount. If you are one of these producers, the beef cows are more than thinking "SOS" (Save Our Skins).

The Fourth of July is the turning point for many producers when considering the number of growing days left in the season. There are several alternatives that can be done to extend the available forages.

One of these is to consider planting small grains earlier than normal and harvesting them by grazing. Rotating some of these areas will extend the number of days this method will provide forage.

Another is to plan to harvest the vegetative growth of the cool season grasses later this fall. The addition of moisture will certainly assist with fall growth. Many times this forage is higher in nutritional quality than forages harvested late from the spring growth or grasses that are in the reproductive stage.

If we can complete the wheat harvest we can utilize wheat straw through the ammonia process. Ammoniated wheat straw has an increase of 8-15% in digestibility or TDN values compared to non-ammoniated wheat straw. The ammonia treatment permits the chemical bonds of lignin and cellulose to be broken, thus permitting the rumen to utilize wheat straw. This change in the chemical bonds increases the passage through the digestive system. The protein content of ammoniated wheat straw will increase to approximately 9 per cent on a dry matter basis.

To my knowledge there have been no problems feeding ammoniated straw, cornstalks, or other poor quality forage. However, do not ammoniate high quality forage or toxicity problems often result. After consuming large quantities of certain ammoniated forages, cattle have become excited and deranged. The toxic compound is passed through the milk where the most severe cases have occurred in nursing calves. Generally speaking, the trouble is more prevalent in ammoniated forages containing a higher level of sugars compared to the amount of sugar found in crop residue.

Wheat straw stored outside will absorb water. Protecting these packages from the weather will certainly be advantageous.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - June 29, 2000
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT062900.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004