UCCE Research Shows Ensiled Rice Straw has Potential as Heifer Feed
Research conducted by UCCE farm advisors and specialists over the past 5 years has shown that rice straw loses about 40% of its TDN value during post harvest field drying thereby reducing a feed with a modest TDN value to one with a very low TDN value. While this UCCE research has also shown that ‘double chop’ or ‘slicer bailed’ rice straw is a ‘mixer ready’ feedstuff which can be added at up to 20% of diet dry matter (DM) to totally mixed rations of dry cows and heifers with little diet sorting or refusals, this baling technology does not impact its low TDN value. However exciting recent research has shown that ensiling rice straw at about 50% moisture for up to 130 days creates a highly palatable feed to cattle with a TDN value that is about 40% higher than in dry rice straw. It seems clear that this approach to preservation of rice straw prevents much of the loss of TDN in rice straw that occurs during field drying. In these drought stressed times, ensiled double chop rice straw may be an opportunity feedstuff for dairy and beef producers that are located near rice growing areas of California.