Grazing Standing Corn to Reduce Winter Feed Costs

Russ Euken, Livestock Field Specialist, Northeast Area

Problem Statement:
Stored feed costs are typically higher than grazing costs for beef cow herds. Some areas of Iowa have limited forage production for making hay for winter feed. One producer had heard about using standing corn for grazing beef cows in the winter time and asked for assistance from Extension.
There were questions about how well the cows would perform and the potential for loss of corn as compared to harvesting corn.
Programmatic Response:
Campus specialist and field specialists assisted in determining the amount of corn to provide to the cows on a daily basis. The producer grazed the corn for about 90 days in the winter of 04-05. The cows performed well and feed costs were approximately 2/3 of feeding a hay ration. A field day was held in March of 05 and 12 people attended.  This producer also successfully grazed corn in winter of 05-06.  Another field day was held in Jan. of 06 with 15 attending and additional producers had intentions or trying it next year. A publication was developed and distributed to people attending the field day and others. A spreadsheet was also developed to help determine area to provide to cows on a daily basis.
Another producer who had attended the field day also grazed corn successfully during the winter of 05-06. He had a field day in Nov. of 2005 and about 22 attended. He is also planning to continue to graze corn in future years.
Producers are able to successfully graze standing corn to reduce winter feed costs. Additional producers are interested in trying the system. Extension has experience and tools to help producers implement the system.

April 2006
107 Iowa Beef Center

Page last updated: July 8, 2006
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