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Corn residue can be a great option for beef producers to extend the grazing season, according to North Dakota State University Extension Service livestock experts.
Grazing corn residue typically is the most cost-effective method to take advantage of nutrients remaining in the field after combining.
“However, producers must evaluate individual fields and grazing scenarios, and make appropriate management plans to ensure cattle health,” beef cattle specialist Carl Dahlen says. “Cattle preferentially will consume grain and leaves before consuming lower-quality stalk material. This is an important consideration when developing strategies to graze crop residues.”
Producers need to be very cautious of piles of grain that spilled into fields during harvest and large amounts of downed ears remaining in fields. Recent wind storms in some areas of the state have left a significant amount of downed ears in fields.
In some cases, producers have reported up to 70 bushels of corn per acre remaining on the ground. In this extreme case, for each acre of
In addition to downed ears, some of these fields have significant leaf loss due to the windy conditions, so little forage is available.
Consuming too much grain can cause digestive upsets (acidosis), lameness and abortions, and death in extreme cases. But not all issues will be observed right away. For example,
To determine the amount of corn remaining in fields planted in 30-inch rows, count the number of 8-inch ears (or equivalent) on the ground along 100 feet between two rows, then divide the total by 2. Do this for at least three 100-foot-long strips in the field to get a good estimate of corn remaining in the field. See http://tinyurl.com/grasingcropresidue for more information.
Any grazing scenario with high amounts of spilled corn or downed ears presents risks to the cattle that are grazing. Here are several strategies Fara Brummer, area livestock systems specialist at the Central Grasslands Research Extension Center, suggests producers consider to help mitigate risk:
Also, closely monitor the amount of residue remaining on fields and provide supplemental forage or remove
Check out the NDSU publication “Utilizing Corn Residue in Beef Cattle Diets” at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/beef/as1548.pdf for more information.
Source: North Dakota State University
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