Ammoniating Wheat Straw Can Help Fill Feed Gaps - UNL CropWatch, July 12, 2012

Ammoniating Wheat Straw Can Help Fill Feed Gaps - UNL CropWatch, July 12, 2012

July 12, 2012

Hay is scarce and expensive this year. Treating wheat straw with anhydrous ammonia can make it almost as digestible and as readily eaten as average prairie hay, but you have to do it correctly.  Following these steps can help provide the best product:

  • Bale straw soon after grain harvest, preferably with some moisture or dew on it. Then, gather bales into rows that are stacked like a pyramid.
     
  • Cover the entire stack with one sheet of 6 to 8 millimeter black plastic. Use ropes or other methods to hold plastic in place. Make sure that you seal the edges of the plastic on the ground with loose soil to prevent leakage.
     
  • Insert a pipe into the center of your stack and attach the pipe to the anhydrous tank. Be careful — ammonia can be dangerous. Slowly turn on the anhydrous until the plastic balloons slightly. Don't go too fast or the plastic can rupture.
     
  • Check for and repair any leaks.
     
  • Continue to add anhydrous slowly until you have added 60 lb of anhydrous per ton of straw. Take about 10 minutes for each ton of straw.
     
  • When you are through, turn off the tank, remove the pipe, and seal its opening. Keep the plastic on the stack until about a week before feeding. Then open one end to allow excess ammonia gas to escape.

Done correctly, ammoniated wheat straw could be a very valuable feed.

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist