Rice straw treated with urea feed up carabao’s milk production, study says

Farmers prepare rice straws to be treated with urea. (Photo by DA-Philippine Carabao Center)

When fed with urea-treated rice straw (UTRS), the carabao yields more milk thereby providing more income benefit to the farmers by as much as 33 percent.

The UTRS consists of a combination of molasses, urea, rice straw and water.

The findings were based on the study titled, “Community-Based S & T Farm Project on the Preparation and Utilization of UTRS as Fodder for Dairy Buffaloes”, conducted by a research team from the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC).

The team was composed of Dr. Daniel L. Aquino, Dr. Tsutomu Fujihara, Honorato Baltazar, Jeffrey Santos and Christian Lacanilao.

The study was conducted to find out the efficacy of the UTRS and if found positive to promote it  for adaption and possible mass production by a cooperative-led producer in the town of Llanera in Nueva Ecija.

The town produces approximately 4.5 million tons of rice straw every year. Likewise, it has three dairy buffalo cooperatives being assisted by the PCC, which are the Kapitbahayan sa A. Mabini Producers Cooperative (KAMPC), Punla Multipurpose Cooperative (PMC) and Casile Dairy Producers ’Cooperative (CDPC).

These coops have 93 members tending some 144 dairy buffaloes, The farmer-members separately cultivate 102 hectares of rice land that at harvest time provide abundant rice straws. (KAMPC has 25 members who have 50 buffaloes and 25 ha. land; PMC with 24 members tending 27 ha area of land and 30 buffaloes, and CDPC with 44 members, 50 ha and 64 buffaloes).

Twenty-seven dairy buffaloes were used in the feeding trials, 19 of which were fed with UTRS while the remaining eight buffaloes were fed with pure rice straw only. Each cow was also given  two kilograms of supplementary concentrates and the milk production and income derived from feeding UTRS to the animals were monitored for 210 days.

Thirty farmer-partners from the three cooperatives were trained on how to prepare UTRS. They were taught how to chop the rice straws, prepare the urea (molasses solution), treat and stack UTRS, and determine the nutritive value of untreated rice straw compared to the UTRS.

After three years of project implementation, results of the study showed that KAMPC produced 317 tons of UTRS, CDPC, 76.3 tons; and PMC, 40 tons. The rice straw materials used in the preparation of UTRS were sprayed or dipped in 2% urea-and 5% molasses solution, conserved to ferment for at least 3 weeks prior to harvest, packed in silage bags with one ton per bag sealed, and placed in bunker silo.

The researchers said that on the average, the 19 lactating buffaloes fed with UTRS gave a total milk production of 924kg per cow  and the eight dairy buffaloes fed with pure rice straw produced 777kg only. This gave a difference of 147 kg in milk production for the buffaloes fed with UTRS.

The effect of UTRS on the daily milk production of buffaloes given with UTRS was 4.4kg per day while the buffaloes fed only with pure rice straw was 3.7 kg per day.

Each of the 19 lactating buffaloes fed with UTRS gained a gross income of Php48,004 while each of the eight buffaloes fed with pure rice straw,  Php40,404 . Milk collected from the buffaloes were sold at Php52 per liter.

After deducting expenses, the net income was Php27,467 per head for the animals fed with UTRS which was higher by Php6,425 than the animals fed with pure rice straw that netted Php21,042 only. The lactation period was 210 days.

This showed that more income was attained from the buffaloes fed with UTRS.

Overall, the 19 dairy buffaloes fed with UTRS had a net gain of Php353,535, higher by 33.18% compared to the animals fed with pure rice straw.

The researchers concluded that UTRS can increase buffaloes’ milk production and farmers’ income.

They also concluded that the preparation and utilization of  the UTRS technology can:

• help solve the deficiency in fodder supply for feeding buffaloes especially in summer seasons where there is a limited source of fodder or feedstuff for dairy buffaloes;

•can be produced either in small scale or commercial scale production without much input in terms of capital and equipment; and

•serve as cheap fodder and a practical ingredient of a dairy buffalo ration.

The researchers highly recommended the UTRS for ruminant feeding and for its mass production for commercialization.