Anhydrous ammonia treatment of hay

Material Information

Anhydrous ammonia treatment of hay
Series Title:
Research report ;
Brown, William F
Agricultural Research and Education Center, Ona
Place of Publication:
Ona, FL
Agricultural Research and Education Center,
Agricultural Research and Education Center
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
Physical Description:
2 p. : ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Hay -- Handling -- Florida ( lcsh )
Ammonia in animal nutrition -- Florida ( lcsh )
Ammonia ( jstor )
Forage ( jstor )
Plastics ( jstor )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


General Note:
Caption title.
General Note:
"February 1986."
Statement of Responsibility:
William F. Brown.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
86072618 ( oclc )


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/^5 'OCT 2 3S ,,87
iAgricultural Research and Education Cente,
RC-1986-3 '-bi:.t' Of Florida Fe ruary 1986


William F. Brown, PhD
Agricultural Research and Education Center-Ona

Anhydrous ammonia treatment of forage has developed from two
standpoints. Low levels of anhydrous ammonia (0.5-1.0% of forage dry matter)
have reduced heat damage and controlled microbial growth in wet forages such
as haylage and silage. This practice increases forage crude protein content,
however other improvements in forage quality are minimal. Higher levels of
anhydrous ammonia (3.0-4.0% of forage dry matter) improve forage quality,
increase feed intake and improve performance of beef cattle.


Small rectangular bales, large round bales, dry hay, or hay that was
baled too wet can be treated with anhydrous ammonia. Specific ammonia
treatment procedures depend upon the quantity of hay to be treated, equipment
availability, and price of materials. The key is to minimize costs of
materials and labor per bale. Large numbers of round bales can be treated
according tote procedures shown in the figure.
plastic ,
/" r i t i -i i \ I i
dirt .

Bales are arranged in a pyramid shape with 3 bales on the bottom, 2 in
the middle and 1 on top. Seven rows of this 3x2x1 configuration are stacked
together, a 2 foot space is left, and seven additional rows are stacked.
Bales become soft during ammonia treatment, and in some cases top end bales
have fallen and ripped the plastic that is used to cover the stack, allowing
ammonia to escape. Therefore, top end bales are not placed. This
configuration will treat 82 bales. A large capacity open-top container (55
gallon drum) is placed in the middle of the two foot opening left in the
stack. Supporting material (lumber, etc.) is wedged between the top two
bales in the opening of the stack to keep these bales from falling into the
opening. Piping (we use 1/2 to 3/4 inch diameter PVC) for the anhydrous
ammonia is run from the container to the outside of the stack. A small
trench is dug around the stack. A 40 feet x 100 feet sheet of 6 mil
thickness plastic covers this stack configuration. Edges of the plastic are
placed into the trench, and covered with dirt to seal the stack. Piping from
the container should be long enough to come underneath the plastic to the
outside of the stack. An anhydrous ammonia tank is parked next to the stack,
the hose from the tank attached to the piping and the tank turned on so that
the ammonia can flow in liquid form from the tank into the container. The
container acts as a reservoir to hold the liquid ammonia.until it volatilizes
and fills the area under the plastic. Many anhydrous ammonia tanks have
capacity meters to estimate the quantity of ammonia injected under the
plastic. Treatment time (time between ammonia injection and feeding) depends
upon environmental temperature, however approximately 30 days is sufficient

in most cases. If smaller quantities of hay are to be treated, different
stack arrangements and sizes of plastic can be used.

Hay should be treated at 3.0 to 4.0% of the forage dry matter. A good
estimate of bale weight, and percent dry matter of the hay should be known,
so that the proper quantity of ammonia will be applied.


Approximate material costs are listed below.
Plastic (clear or black) 12x100:$25 32x100:$68 24x100:$50 40x100:$100
Anhydrous ammonia: $.14/lb = $280.00/ton

Total material costs, and cost per ton to treat a stack of 82, 1000 lb
bales of 85% dry matter hay are shown below.

82 bales Per Ton DM Per Ton as fed
Anhydrous ammonia (3%) 293.00 8.40 7.14
Plastic (40 x 100) 100.00 2.87 2.44
Total $393.00 $11.27 $9.58

Results from drylot studies indicate that calves consuming ammonia
treated hay gain more weight and are more efficient than those consuming
untreated hay plus a liquid supplement. Approximate daily feed costs for a
cow under these two feeding situations is presented below.

Hay + liquid Ammonia
supplement hay
Untreated hay ($50/ton) 20 lb = .50
Ammonia treated hay (50 + 9.58 = $59.58) 20 lb = .60
Liquid supplement (16% CP, $150/ton 4 lb = .30
Total feed cost/head/day $.80 $.60


Recently, reports have indicated animal health problems related to
feeding ammonia treated hay. In isolated cases, some calves from cows fed
ammonia treated hay were either born dead, or died shortly after birth.
Other reports indicate that weaned calves fed ammonia treated hay exhibited
signs of nervous system disorder. Health problems were alleviated when an
energy supplement was fed in addition to the ammonia treated hay. It has
been suggested that a toxic compound is formed in some cases when hay is
ammoniated. It appears that formation of the toxic compound is related to
high bale temperatures (greater than 1600 F) when hay is treated. Health
problems have not been reported when bale temperatures at treatment time were
below 1600 F. It appears that level of ammonia is not a factor. Hay
moisture may be indirectly related due to heating of hay baled too wet.
Clear instead of black plastic should be considered to aid in reducing

Ammonia treatment is a practical and economic way to improve the quality
of hay produced in Florida. Ammonia treated hay offers an alternative to
traditional wintering programs for heifers, steers, bulls, and cows that are
either open, in early gestation or late lactation. At this time feeding
ammoniated hay to cows 30 days before and 30 days after calving is not


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not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
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