This is hay or crop residue (corn, millet, sorghum stover, rice straw) treated with urea fertilizer solution to improve its nutritive quality and digestibility.
It also improves palatability of the material. The urea fertilizer is converted into protein by the microflora in the ruminants’ rumen while the lignin in the stover/straw is broken down after being softened by the water in the urea solution.
Some Materials that can be ensiled
- Dried maize stover
- Dried millet stover
- Dried sorghum stover
- Dried sugar cane tops
- Dried rice straw
Steps to follow since urea is potentially poisonous it is important that the following steps are followed carefully
- Dig a trench in a well-drained area. A hill side is most preferable (concreted pit is preferred because it is more permanent). The size of the pit is determined by the the quantity of straw to be treated.
- Cover the floor and sides of the pit with polythene sheets that are thick enough to hold the silage material without any puncture or water seeping through.
- Chop the material to be treated into pieces to aid infiltration of the urea-water solution, and also for easy consumption by animals.
- Mix 1kg urea fertilizer (46% nitrogen) thoroughly into 10 liters of water. This solution should be applied to 16-20kg of straw. To make it easier for farmers, mix 2 milo tins full of urea fertilizer into size 34 bucket of water filled up to the last line. The solution is applied to a cocoa sack full of dried straw.
- Fill the pit in layers of the prescribed quantity of straw and sprinkle the solution. Some pressure must be applied on the material in the pit to make it compact.
- Cover the pit with polythene to make it air tight.
- Treated straw is ready for consumption from 2-3 weeks.
Note: Successfully treated straw has a strong smell of ammonia (like urine) and appears slightly moist and darker in color than the original material before treatment.
Feeding of treated straw
- Open the pit from one end.
- Take out enough quantity required for feeding at a time; leave it in the open for air to pass through before feeding. This is to allow the strong ammonia smell to be reduced.Urea treated straw is good for dry season feeding for all ruminants. It has been used successfully for fattening and maintenance of body weight. It has had effect on fattening cattle and small ruminants.
Generally materials such as dried corn, millet, and sorghum stover and rice straw have low nutritional value if fed in their dried state. Their nutritional value can be improved considerably in quality and digestibility by applying urea-water solution and fermenting it for three weeks.
For further information, Contact:
Animal Production Directorate,
Ministry of Food and Agriculture
Any Regional/District Agric. Office
Across the country.