by Denise Schwab, NE Iowa Beef Specialist
The majority of Iowa beef producers understand the importance of grazing corn residue to control feed costs. Samples and McCutcheon (2002) suggest that, under positive weather conditions, 1 ac of corn residue can provide sixty days of grazing for a 1,000-lb animal (sixty animal-unit grazing days). Mature cows in the middle trimester of gestation that are in desirable body condition typically maintain their body weight and may gain up to 1 lb per head daily. As the grain component is consumed and availability of husks and leaves declines, protein supplementation may be needed to maintain body condition.
However this year grazing cornstalks may have some additional risks due to the weather we’ve experienced – wind, hail, storm damage, drought. As I combined this fall, we had an unusual amount of ear droppage, and other farmers in Benton County have shared this same experience. This is an economic disadvantage to those of us who grain farm, but can be both a blessing and a curse to cattlemen. While cows grazing these fields will clearly gain weight this fall, excess corn can lead to grain overload in cows.
A new publication on grazing corn residue will help you plan your grazing program. But what steps do you put in place to prevent grain overload in cattle grazing corn stalks?