Stan Smith, PA, Fairfield County OSU Extension

OSU Extension Beef Team members have received many calls and inquiries in recent weeks regarding the feed supply situation for Ohio’s beef cattle. The responses are much the same as they were during the drought in 1999, and other years – we have many alternatives to consider, choose the most affordable one that best fits your situation. While most of this information has been published in this and other publications over the past 8 weeks or so, I think it merits repeating one more time with this issue of the BEEF Cattle letter being dedicated to taking another look some of these feed alternatives.

In Ohio, we are blessed with an abundant acreage of crops – both grain and forage. Even in areas suffering severe drought over the last half of this summer, there is harvestable crop. It may not all be in the form or volume that we’re accustomed to, but there is crop, which in turn equals feed. In addition, we have many processors that make crop by-products available to those innovative enough to utilize them. WE HAVE FEED – it just may not be in the form we’ve always used.

The unique thing about a cow is that when fed correctly, she can utilize for feed almost anything that can be burned with a match. This means many affordable alternatives exist for Ohio cattlemen. The most obvious one that merits consideration is corn – the grain, the stover, and/or the whole plant! As one travels around Ohio, there is no feed stuff more abundant – or possibly wasted – than corn. First, it’s not too late to harvest silage. If harvest for grain is the first choice, see Steve Leorch’s article on how best to utilize this still relatively inexpensive source of energy as cow feed. And, once it’s harvested for grain, corn stover makes excellent feed – either as grazed residue or baled for later use. Find a new Extension fact sheet on grazing corn stalks at: http://ohioline.osu.edu/anr-fact/0010.html

After corn or soybeans are harvested, consider planting a forage that will grow in cool weather such as oats or cerial rye for fall and early winter pasture. Find more details in Maximizing Fall and Winter Grazing of Beef Cows at: http://ohioline.osu.edu/b872/index.html

If finding supplemental protein or energy sources is your greatest concern, we have several millers and processors in Ohio that can help solve this concern too. Some of the alternatives available in Ohio include wet brewers grain, wheat midds, soyhulls, corn gluten, dried distillers grain, and screenings from seed and grain handlers. Check with your feed suppliers – my guess is you’ll be surprised by what all is available out there.

For more ideas on utilizing alternative feeds, or creating fall forages, visit the Library links at the OSU Extension Beef (http://beef.osu.edu) and Forage (http://forages.osu.edu) Teams’ web sites. And, carefully consider the feed options that are discussed throughout this issue of the BEEF Cattle letter. One thing I know for certain – the $100+/ton hay that I’m hearing about is best utilized by highly efficient dairy animals, or 4 legged pets.