Grazing Stunted or Poor Yielding Corn?

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

After yet another cold front has come through the state recently without yielding significant precipitation for much of Ohio’s pasture and crop lands, the frequency of calls coming into OSU Extension offices about feed alternatives have accelerated. Many of the calls I’ve received have related to the economics of bagging corn silage in an effort to salvage some feed value from the crop.

Bagging is certainly an affordable, and cost effective alternative for harvesting and storing high quality feed for later use. In fact, we have a couple of local cattlemen who prefer to save bagged corn silage each year for use during the late summer “pasture slump” while they stockpile grass for late fall and winter grazing.

However, simply grazing stunted or late replanted corn now while pastures rest is another alternative that has piqued interest locally. Field trials on grazing corn in Ohio have gone on since at least the mid 90’s. In fact, Jim Barrett, late Extension Agent from Washington County, did a lot of demonstration work on this alternative and exhibits the economics of it in this BEEF Cattle letter that was published April 22, 1998.

Grazing corn now, or at least soon, would not only allow abused and drought stricken pastures to heal more quickly when precipitation does return, but it would also save a more traditional feed such as hay to be fed this winter when it normally would be. Nitrates could be a problem with grazing but is not likely unless the animals eat the lower 1/3 of the stalk. In fact, since the entire stalk would be blended in, nitrates may actually be more of a problem if the corn is harvested and fed directly as green chop or silage. Also, keep in mind that greater corn feed yield would occur by letting the plants become more mature and harvesting it as corn silage a little later, however, the harvest and bagging process would come at an expense of approximately $10 per ton, as harvested. By comparison, the costs for grazing the same corn would amount to little more than the cost of some electric fencing – likely less than $1/ton. Continue reading

Harvesting Soybeans for Forage

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist and Bill Weiss, Extension Dairy Specialist, The Ohio State University

The drought conditions this summer have led some producers to consider using their soybean crop for forage. Whole plant soybeans can be excellent forage for cattle. Soybeans with little pod development can have about 18% crude protein and 40 to 45% neutral detergent fiber. In other words, whole soybean plants are similar to good quality alfalfa in nutritional value. Good soybean silage can be made under the following conditions: Continue reading

Grazing During Hot-dry Times

– Daryl Clark, OSU Extension Educator, Noble County

Has the summer of 2005 been a drought for your grazing operation? Ask this question of grazers and you’ll receive a number of answers. These range from “no doubt” to “maybe a little.” Rains have been spotty, and have varied greatly in amounts. Heat and humidity have also had a bearing on plants and livestock.

Many producers remember vividly the wide spread droughts of 1988 and 1999. Meetings discussing the effects of drought on forage, livestock, and market results were well attended. However, the greatest effects of these extreme dry, hot years has been on the forage managers memory. These memories include the almost hopeless feeling of not being in control. No decision could change the helpless feeling and make the situation go away. Continue reading