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
August 19, 1999

Drought Feeding Strategies

The drought of 1999 seems to be increasing in area. Some localities are showing more of the drought appearance than those just a few miles down the road. Areas where the drought is having a devastating effect on crops are looking at alternative sources for livestock feed.

One process that has been used extensively through the drought years is the application of anhydrous ammonia on low-quality forage to make it more palatable. This process works quite well on wheat straw, corn stalks and other low-quality roughage. Do not use this process on medium to high-quality forage. There have been toxicity problems associated with grass hays and sorghum hays treated with anhydrous ammonia but this has not been a problem with the cereal straws and stover. Sealing low quality roughages under plastic and treating them with anhydrous ammonia (no more than 50 pounds per ton) makes the plant structure equivalent to medium quality grass hay. Ammonia treatment has increased the intake of straw by 15 to 25% and improved the digestibility by 8 to 15%. This process has made straw approximately equal to alfalfa haylage in energy value when the treated straw made up 1/3 to of the dry matter in the complete ration.

Silage is an excellent method of salvaging a corn crop that is cut short by the drought. The feeding value of drought silage has been close, on a dry matter basis, to well-eared corn silage when fed growing rations. Depending on the extent of drought damage the feeding value of drought silage ranges from 75 to 95 % of the value of normal corn silage.

Broiler and turkey litter is a source of feed for cattle. The nutrient level in poultry litter will depend upon the number of broods reared, so it should be analyzed for nutrient content. Litter usually has from 20 to 30% protein equivalent and 50 to 55% TDN on a dry basis. Litter can be deep stacked and mixed with silage and grain at feeding time for protein and other nutrient sources.

By-products feeds like corn gluten, soy hulls, distillers grains and wheat mids may be a cheaper source of nutrients than corn or milo. Least cost ration formulation is helpful in identifying feeds that supply nutrients at least cost.

Under previous drought situations we have planted winter annuals in August. Even though the drought persists, frequently we get a rain that will stimulate the growth of wheat, barley, or rye. These crops certainly add to the supply of fall forage for grazing if we can get enough moisture to stimulate sprouting and start the initial growth process.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - August 19, 1999
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT081999.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004