The University of California has published a guide to help rice growers find a home for what has for years been an environmentally challenging waste product and to help beef cattle producers find a low-cost supplemental feed.

Feeding Rice Straw to Cattle, written by Northern California UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) farm advisors Dan Drake, Glenn Nader and Larry Forero, examines the nutritional value of rice straw, procedures to collect lab samples, feeding methods and ration formulation, and methods to keep costs down. The guide is currently available on the Web at http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/pdf/8079.pdf.

“Feed is the largest single cost of producing beef,” said Sutter/Yuba and Butte counties UCCE advisor Nader. “Producers with access to alternative feeds have an economic advantage but these types of feeds present unique challenges. Rice straw should be used only as part of the forage, not as a complete ration.”

In the past rice straw has been fed to cattle with mixed success. This publication explains the road to successful use of rice straw as feed built on three principles, Nader adds. First, know the nutritional quality of the rice straw, as it varies greatly. Second, determine the nutritional requirements of the cattle to be fed. And third, balance a ration to determine whether rice straw will meet your situation economically.

For additional information about Feeding Rice Straw to Cattle, contact Nader in his Yuba City UCCE office. Phone: (530) 822-7515. Email: gnader@ucdavis.edu.