Corn Stalks Provide Another Grazing Option

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator, Wayne county

Over the past several weeks, a considerable amount of corn has been harvested for grain. The corn stalk residue or fodder that remains offers another grazing opportunity for beef cattle or sheep. According to a Penn State Extension publication entitled “Grazing Corn Stalks with Beef Cattle”, for every bushel of corn there are approximately 18 lbs. of stem/stalk, 16 lbs. of husk and leaves and 5.8 to 6.0 lbs. of cob left as residue.

According to a University of Nebraska beef production site, for a quick estimate of corn stalk grazing days for a 1200-pound non-lactating cow, divide the corn grain bushel yield by 3.5. Corn stalk residue does provide energy and crude protein but is low in mineral and vitamin A content, therefore a well-balanced mineral and vitamin mix should be provided free choice along with salt.

Cattle and sheep grazing corn stalk residue select and eat the grain first, followed by the husk and leaf and finally the cob and stalk. Typically, there is less than one bushel of corn ears dropped per acre unless the field has experienced high winds. One potential issue with selectively consuming the grain first is digestive upset/ acidosis, or in severe cases Continue reading

Your Hay Storage Impacts Quality and Quanity

David Dugan, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Adams County

Where and how hay is stored can have a huge impact on the quality and quantity that’s available to be used for feed

With the calendar turning to November, and the temperatures dropping below freezing several mornings now, the time to feed hay is near, if not already here. Several have been feeding hay due to the pasture situation following a dry September that included several 90 degree plus days that zapped much of the grass.

I hope by now that samples have been pulled to get some idea of the nutrients in your hay so you can supplement when needed. Locally I have stressed the concern for hay quality for the passed few months and feel it is something many do not take as serious as maybe they should. The idea that I have heard time after time over the years is, it will beat snowballs, keeps coming to mind. That is a true statement, but will it beat wheat straw? Maybe.

OK, enough about quality, I am now Continue reading

Stalks and Syrup

– Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, Associate Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

This fall many producers are questioning if they will have enough hay to get through to spring. Tight hay supplies are making it difficult to find hay as well. Several folks were asking about baling soybeans that had empty pods and Dr. Teutsch addressed this in a previous article ( Now questions regarding options for corn stalks are beginning to surface. Stalks can be an option but you need to consider a few things. The highest quality forage portions of corn crop residues are the leaves and husks. Residual corn left in the field is not going to be captured in the bales which lowers the feeding value compared to grazing the field. The cob and stalk are lower in digestibility than the husk and leaves. The stalk can comprise the majority of the bale. Protein levels can be variable in the 3-6% range which is insufficient for cattle. Protein supplementation will be needed when feeding stalks. The energy or Total Digestible Nutrient (TDN) level in corn stalk bales can also be variable ranging from 48-58% depending on the stalk to leaf/husk proportions. It is important that bales are tested for nutrient content. Stalks can retain a lot of moisture making baling and storing bales a challenge.

If corn stalks are being considered, they are best utilized when processed. Feeding stalk bales as one would hay bales in a ring feeder can lead to Continue reading

Searching for Opportunities

– Kevin Laurent, Beef Extension Specialist, Princeton Research and Education Center, University of Kentucky

To say that 2019 has been a challenging year would be a huge understatement. From the excessive rain the first half of the year, to the drought and depressed markets of late, 2019 will definitely be remembered as one of those years much like 2007, 2009 and 2012. Like most challenges in life, there always seems to be an opportunity if we just look hard enough. Some may think these so called opportunities are dressed in camouflage and I wouldn’t dare argue with you. However, there have been a few positive signs recently with the market trending higher and many areas receiving some rain. Although we are far from out of the woods on either front, there are a few strategies we can use to minimize losses now and improve our situation in the Continue reading

Get Your Cattle Ready for Winter Before the Snow Flies

Catelyn Turner, Agricultural and Natural Resource Educator, OSU Extension, Monroe County (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

By looking at six critical areas on a cow, we can determine a body condition score and then develop a feeding plan.

The past week has brought a few chilly mornings, as well as the thoughts that winter is coming sooner than we think. It feels like just last week we were having 70 – 80-degree weather! The brisk mornings we have had have meant wearing a light jacket on the commute to work, but just because we are cold doesn’t mean our cattle are cold, yet. Cattle typically have a lower comfort level at around 20 – 30 degrees Fahrenheit, as long as the weather conditions are dry with little to no wind chill. Once the temperature drops below this range cattle will need more feed for energy, or they will start to use their stored fat to maintain their body temperature. Planning for the winter season is always a good idea, especially when it comes to keeping our cows in an adequate Body Condition Score (BCS) range prior to calving.

The key to it all, in my opinion, is planning ahead. It is way easier and less stressful if we have a plan in place and have evaluated the Continue reading

Cattle Saliva, More Than Just Spit

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

Ruminants secret enormous quantities of saliva from eight types of glands. The secretions are serous (watery), mucus or mixed. The mixed secretions are weakly buffered while the others are strongly buffered with bicarbonate and phosphate. Saliva moistens and lubricates food and assists in masticating (chewing) and swallowing. Saliva contributes more than 70% of the water and most of the salts to the rumen. It assists in stabilizing rumen pH and provides sources of nitrogenous and mineral nutrients for the microorganisms.

Saliva is secreted as different rates during resting, eating or rumination. As the water content of the feed increases, the amount of saliva decreases. Generally feeds that increase salivation during eating increase salivation during resting and rumination. Feeds that do not induce large quantities of saliva to be secreted are those with either low dry matter content (lush pasture) or those eaten rapidly such as ground or pelleted hay or grain concentrate. The slowest rates of secretion occur after feeding ceases and then gradually increases reaching its highest rate before the next feeding.

The principal organic constituents of saliva are Continue reading

Hay, just how bad is it?

Ted Wiseman, and Dean Kreager Extension Educators in Perry and Licking County

Much of Ohio’s 2019 first cutting grass hay was beyond optimum maturity when it was harvested. Laboratory analysis indicates little if any first cutting has adequate quality to meet the nutritional needs of bred cows in late gestation or lactation.

You may be thinking enough already with the hay quality talk. Many articles have been sent out on this topic starting before some people even baled their first cutting. Last year a lot of the hay was very poor quality and many animals lost significant weight through the winter. Some animals even died with hay in front of them because the hay did not have enough nutritional value. Hay quality affects all types of livestock but I will concentrate on beef cows since they are less likely to receive supplemental feed than most other animals.

Thin cows are more likely to produce calves that are less healthy and will not grow as well. Those cows often take longer to breed back which will carry into the next year with later born calves. Below is a summary of 45 forage samples from hay made this year. This data represents 2 important test numbers. These 2 items do not tell the whole story when it comes to Continue reading

Consider By-product Feeds in Rations This Winter

Erika Lyon, OSU Extension Educator, Jefferson & Harrison Counties (originally published in The Ohio Farmer)

By-products such as distillers grains, gluten or soyhulls can serve as lower cost feed alternatives.

The last two years made it challenging for many producers to find good quality, let alone a good quantity of, feed for livestock. Spoilage and high costs for subpar hay and grain can be discouraging. Health issues associated with poor quality feed may range from starvation-like symptoms due to lacking nutritional value of feed to death from contamination. Producers may want to consider supplementing other types of feeds into winter rations to make up for the loss in nutritional value of traditional feeds and to help off-set costs. Feeds produced from by-products can often provide an adequate amount of protein and energy and are often cheaper than conventional feeds, especially when conventional feeds are in short supply.

Feedstuffs such as soybean hulls and corn gluten are often used to replace poor quality hay during the winter months. Soybean hulls are the product of soybean oil and meal production and may require heat treatment to prevent enzyme activity that results in nutrient loss. The fibrous content of soybean hulls can Continue reading

Hay Quality Indicators

Christine Gelley, AgNR Educator, Noble County, OSU Extension

The drastic swing in temperatures from one day to the next last week should remind us all that it truly is autumn and that winter is coming. The challenges of the 2019 forage production season continue to add up. With droughty conditions across the state for the past two months, what was too lush for too long, is now crunchy and brown. Some producers are already feeding hay to their livestock, some are hoping that the forage they have stockpiled for late-fall/winter grazing will pay off. Hopefully it will with a little rain.

We ended 2018 with the lowest stock of stored forages since 2012 and the fourth lowest in the past 70 years. I don’t think 2019 has been much help. Quality forage is in short supply and high demand. Which means all forage has increased in monetary value by the ton.

If you are a hay marketer, this sounds positive. The price is up and your input costs stay relatively flat year to year, factoring in land value, equipment, fuel, and labor. But, is it positive? Maybe, if you don’t need to keep any hay for yourself.

Let’s look at an example: Continue reading

What’s in your hay?

Ted Wiseman, OSU Extension, Perry County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman)

I don’t think that anyone would be surprised if I stated that getting hay made this spring was a real struggle.  Spring arrived with beef cows in some of the poorest body conditions that we have seen in years.  It is possible for an animal to starve to death with hay in front of them every day all winter.

My intent in this article is to simply illustrate the importance of getting your hay tested this year and to work with a nutritionist to establish a feeding program. Forages analyzed from this year indicate that quality is going to be an issue again.  Many of the first cutting samples from this year have protein levels in the single digits and total digestible nutrient (TDN) levels, in the 30s and 40s.  To put this into perspective straw has a crude protein level around 4 percent and TDN levels between 25-55.  To make matters worse we have an extremely low supply of forages and straw this year.

The following three tables focus mainly on the energy levels in forages and at three different stages of beef cow production.   In this scenario we have a 1200-pound cow and keeping dry matter intake (DMI) constant at 2 percent.  At each TDN level for forages analyzed it shows how much hay, corn and soybean meal it would take to meet these requirements.  These tables equate to requirements of a beef cow at 9 months gestation (Table 1), at calving (Table 2) and at Continue reading