Are you thinking about grazing your cattle on corn this winter? It’s a great way to provide low-cost, high-value feed through the late fall and winter. To get the most value and production out of grazing corn, you need a good plan.
Here are five important points to consider when building that plan.
- Field/area selection.
How many acres of grazing corn do you need to adequately feed your herd? To answer that, first determine how many grazing days you want to get from the corn, then apply this quick two-part formula: a number of grazing days expected x number of cows = number of grazing days you need. Then divide the number of grazing days by 180 to determine the number of acres you need to plant.
- Hybrid selection.
Because corn grown for grazing isn’t intended for grain or silage harvest, biomass is more important than filled cobs. One way to achieve this is to choose a corn hybrid that requires up to 200 more heat units than your area normally requires. You can also seed later to achieve a similar effect.
Cows are no different than people – they have favorite foods. In the case of grazing corn, cows will always eat the cobs first, the leaves second and the stalks last. It means that giving cattle uncontrolled access to the entire field results in a lot of uneaten crop and an unbalanced diet as the cobs have higher energy value than the rest of the plant and can cause acidosis if eaten in excess. To ensure cows eat the entire plant, you need reliable fencing. Electric fences allow you to strip graze the field by moving cows along to the next paddock once they’ve finished the one they’re in. Research indicates that moving fences every 3 to 7 days is ideal to achieve maximum grazing efficiency. The formula used to calculate how many acres of grazing corn to seed can also be used to determine how big your paddocks should be to feed the herd for a certain number of days. Only move them on when they’ve grazed everything.
- Access to water.
It goes without saying that each and every paddock requires a source of clean water. On average, a bred cow requires 12 gallons per day.
- Supplemental feed.
Grazing corn is a high-energy food source but it can be low in protein and other essential nutrients, so you may need to supplement their feed to ensure a balanced diet.
UFA offers ADM Winter Corn/Cereal Supplement 60% (1133565) for beef cattle, which is ideal to supplement corn and cereal silage or corn and cereal forages.
• Provides protein and nutrients as part of a winter grazing program (corn grazing, swath grazing)
• Contains not only a high level but also a highly available source of Calcium and Magnesium to help prevent downer cows, milk fever, and winter tetany
• Contains Biuret, which is a safe slow-release source of protein to help cows better digest corn and cereal forages that are low in protein but adequate in energy
• Provides a full mineral and vitamin package sufficient for the pregnant cow grazing corn or cereal forage.
Talk to your Customer Account Manager (CAM) about which of our hybrid corn varieties work best for your grazing corn plan to keep your cows healthy and conditioned through the winter months.