Feeding corn, corn stalks, or corn byproduct

Feeding corn, corn stalks, or corn byproduct

(Producer Questions prior to 2009)

My cows are on corn stalks and there is corn in their manure. Do I need to supplement them?

If corn appears in the manure of cows on corn stalks then research data would suggest that the diet being consumed is about 9.2% crude protein. This is above the requirement for cows in mid and late gestation. The quality of the stalks is lower when the corn is removed leaving the husk and leaves which are closer to 6% crude protein and TDN ranges from the mid 50's to high 40's. This quality is not adequate for late gestating cows and first-calf-heifers.

I have drought damaged corn that has been appraised at 6bu/acre. It sits near my pasture. Can I have cows graze this corn safely by turning cow/calf pairs several hours/day?

The key to grazing drought damaged corn fields is to control the amount of nitrates the cows will consume. Nitrates will usually be in the lower 6 to 8 inches of the stalk. The most common situation where nitrates are a problem is when hungry cows are allowed to graze or eat feeds high in nitrates.

Fill cows up with hay before turning them out to graze the corn field. Manage their grazing so that you don't force them to eat the lower part of the corn plant. The husks, leaves, and ears will contain very little if any nitrates. Cattle will typically select the upper part of the corn plant first and over time will slowly adapt themselves to any nitrates.

Once the cattle have been filled with hay and turned out to graze the corn field, I would suggest that they stay out grazing until you are finished with the corn field. You may want to do some cross-fencing so that cattle don't trample a lot of the stalks and to limit the amount of the ears they consume, but again, don't force the cows to consume the lower part of the stalk. I'm not overly concerned about founder when there is only 6 bushel to the acre, but cross fencing will also help limit number of ears consumed.

Can I feed whole corn to my beef cattle as a supplement?

Cows can be fed whole corn as a supplement. Corn would be considered an energy feed and therefore an energy supplement. In high forage cow diets, I would not feed more than 3 to 4 lb per head per day. At this level of corn feeding there will only be a slight reduction in digestibility of the hay and no negative impact on cow performance.

Can we feed the corn syrup from an open trough once a day allowing all they eat? Cows are on grass and fed late in the afternoon. This seems to be working but any advice you can give would be great.

Distillers solubles (condensed corn distillers solubles or corn syrup) is a liquid feed product that is readily available and usually inexpensive relative to nutrient composition. Solubles are normally 25-35% DM and contain about 19% fat, and 25% CP on a dry matter basis. Because of the high fat content the syrup is close to 120% TDN. The syrup is high in phosphorus, so P supplementation is not necessary. Syrup is also high in sulfur. The challenge with distillers solubles is that you must have storage and unloading facilities to handle liquid feeds. In most cases, storage equipment is sized to handle 1 or 2 semi-loads.

Therefore, purchasing large quantities (much more than 2 semi-loads) may not be feasible if the solubles are handled as a liquid. Handling distillers solubles brings challenges inherit in all liquid feeds such as equipment and pumps, circulation of the liquid to ensure that "settling" does not occur or separation and the potential for freezing in cold temperatures.

We have done some work in feeding the solubles. This byproduct is extremely palatable. I am not comfortable recommending feeding this product "free choice". One would think with the high fat content that intake could be easily regulated. Our experience has been that, if offered free choice, cattle will congregate around the feeding area until it is gone. Individual intake will vary and the "boss" cows will consume the most. The reason for the concern about free choice feeding is the high sulfur content.

The maximum tolerable level for sulfur for beef cattle is 0.40%. If the soluble is offered free choice without regulation, intake will be greater than that. We do not recommend offering the syrup "free-choice".

I would like to start feeding DDGS to supplement my cows on stalks, what would be a recommended rate? Note, I have fall calvers with 200 lb calves at side.

The fall calvers on stalks with calves at their side are deficient in both energy and protein. If they are getting nothing but stalks, then I would work them up to 5 lb/hd/da of DDGS. Again, make sure they all have access to their share of the distillers and that no one cow over consumes. Phosphorus is not needed so look for a by-product mineral that contains no Phosphorus. I would not recommend feeding over 7 lb/hd/da DDGS.