Cliff Arnal is a grain farmer and cattle producer who has been using chaff as a feedstock continually since the 1970s. He currently calves around 400 cows, relying upon chaff as his major feed source.
Cliff calves in late April and May. The cows are wintered at a single location, which includes a valley bottom section with a spring fed creek. The chaff is unloaded into a single bunk, about 100 feet wide by 250 feet long. The chaff bunk is in the sheltered valley section of the pasture. The ends of the bunk are fenced, an electric wire controls access down each side of the bunk. The cows receive hay every day. Hay is put out with a processor that holds two bales, about 300 yards from the location of the chaff bunk. When I visited in December, they were feeding two 1000 lb square bales of hay a day. They will add grain or hay as the weather dictates, and as the cows nutritional requirements change.
The chaff comes from cereals, peas and canola.
Cliff has also fed ammoniated chaff. Perforated hoses were laid the length of the bunk as it was being formed. NH3 tanks were connected to manifolds with 2 hoses each. The bunk was hosed down with water, then when the wind was from a suitable direction, the valves on the NH3 tanks were opened and it was left for 24 hours. The result was nutritious feed, with no germination of any surviving seeds. The hoses were rolled up as they became exposed during the winter. It was not necessary to cover the chaff to get a good result.
There are no longer any NH3 suppliers nearby, so they have not ammoniated for a number of years.
Chaff collection Program
The chaff is hauled during harvest, a cart of his own design unloads into tandem trucks with extended boxes. The cart capacity matches the grain tank capacity of the combine.
The chaff is hauled to the winter feed location and dumped. It is then pushed up into a heap about 8 feet high.
Currently they harvest more chaff than their herd consumes, they sell the excess to neighbours, delivering it for half the price of hay.
Cliff Arnal, Ravenscrag, SK.