Cereal Options For Consideration This Winter
US winter feeding options could include more cereals this year, with a range of benefits to be had.
Crop growing areas supporting cow/calf or stocker operations could look to embrace ‘user friendly’ cover crops or grazing crop residues in addition to tapping into feeding lower price corn.
Erich Richer, Ohio State University, suggests cereal rye, which has locally seen a plantings increase in recent years, as a feed.
He underlines rye’s soil benefits and hardiness.
“Rye is a great nutrient recycler, soil builder, topsoil loosener, and erosion preventer,” says Mr Richer.
“For dairy and beef producers, rye can also be considered for additional grazing or forage value.”
For farmers making rye-lage, an important point to note is the different feed values it has to corn silage, meaning cost per pound evaluations to assess the crop are worthwhile, add Mr Richer.
According to forage analysis done in the state, 2-3 tons per acre at a dry matter of 21 to 34 per cent has been achieved.
Mr Richer adds: “These analyses were from rye harvested the start of the boot stage all the way to full head, thus range in quality varies.”
Crude protein averaged 12.7 ranging 8-17 per cent, total digestible nutrients tallied at around 60 per cent and relative feed value stood at 102 on average, peaking at 121.
Net energy for gain and lactations were 35 mcal/pound and 63 mcal/pound respectively.
Those wintering replacement heifers or calves before grass next summer are well suited to corn stalk grazing, according to Warren Rusche at South Dakota State University extension.
“High rates of gains aren’t required in those systems; keeping winter feed expenses to a minimum plays a greater role in profitability,” says Mr Rusche.
He adds that calf daily gains of 1.5 to 2 pounds have been noted when supplemented with 3-6 pounds of dried distiller’s grains.
Typical stocking rates will see two animals per acre for 50 days, advises Mr Rusche.
“There’s approximately 15 pounds of husks and leaves for every bushel or corn,” he explains.
That means 2400 pounds of husks and leaves would be available at 160 bushels per acre, of which 50 per cent is lost due to trampling and other losses.
Because residue digestibility declines with time, Mr Rusche states that stocking a field of 160 bushel production with two calves per acre should provide enough residue for 50 days.
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