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Ranchers learn how to turn straw into 'gold'

About 50 ranchers gathered this week in Willows to learn how they can convert straw left over from the rice harvest into a palatable and nutritious feed for cattle, reported Tim Hearden in Capital Press.

By baling rice straw before it dries and tarping it to keep the straw moist until it is fed to cattle, the feed, called "strawlage," is comparable to low-quality alfalfa, UC Cooperative Extension scientists say.

“We haven't figured everything out, but with the drought conditions as serious as they are, we feel the time is right to share our research with growers,” said Glenn Nader, the UCCE advisor who organized the field day.

Because of the drought, "There's going to be a significant problem with feed coming into this winter and rice strawlage may be an answer," said Peter Robinson, a UCCE specialist in the Department of Animal Science at Davis.

The feed can turn black and become a little slimy, but the cows don't seem to mind.

“The cattle do eat this really well,” rancher Herb Holzaphel said during the workshop. “It didn't feed as good as silage, but it fed better than normal straw.”

For more information, see the UC Rice Project website.

Cows attacking rice strawlage as tractor drops into feeder.
Cows attacking rice strawlage as tractor drops into feeder.

Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 8:22 AM

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