CropWatch March 5, 2010: Tips for Grazing Standing Corn

CropWatch March 5, 2010: Tips for Grazing Standing Corn

March 5, 2010

If you have strips of corn or entire corn fields still standing and unharvested due to snow last fall, grazing may be a good option for harvesting this crop.

After all, snow will need to melt and ground will need to freeze or dry up before you can combine and cattle can get in much earlier than large equipment. Another advantage of grazing is that cattle can harvest ears that have dropped to the ground.

How you go about grazing your standing corn might take a little forethought, though.

Over half of what the animals eat is going to be grain so they may need to be fed some corn before grazing to adapt them to a higher grain diet. Also, you need to limit the amount of area the animals have access to so they don’t just run wild — knocking down, trampling in, and wasting much of this valuable feed.

Limiting the area isn’t as difficult as it might sound. It just involves some pretty intense daily strip grazing. Use electric fences that you reposition every day to allocate only one day’s worth of feed at a time.

To determine how much area to provide on a daily basis, begin by estimating your corn grain yield. Each bushel of grain you provide should support about three cows for one day, considering that they also can eat much of the corn forage.

Give them the estimated area to start, then give a little more or a little less each day, depending on how well they used the previous day’s allocation.

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist