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Corn residue can be a valuable grazing resource for cattle. This year especially with a fairly dry fall and start to winter, stalks have maintained quality and been available for grazing for quite some time. Typically, corn residue can run around 5-6% Crude Protein (CP) and 50-60% total digestible nutrients (TDN) which is a measure of energy. For some classes of livestock this may be enough to get by without supplementation, but for others, some extra feed is required.
Making, transporting, and feeding hay is a large investment in time, equipment, and money. How can you reduce loss of hay during feeding to make that investment go further?
There are many ways to feed hay, with each method impacting waste differently. If hay is fed unrestricted, cattle can waste 45 percent of the hay they are provided. Limit feeding hay so only what is required is fed, will significantly reduce waste right away. Studies show that cattle fed daily versus feed every four days, needed 25% less hay. That’s a huge amount, but labor and equipment cost slightly increased.
Eastern red cedar trees are a significant and expanding problem across many pasture and rangeland acres in Nebraska. When fire is planned and controlled properly, it can be a very useful tool to control these unwanted plants.
It is estimated that a single cedar tree with an 8-foot diameter could reduce forage production by 3 pounds. If you had a density of 200 trees per acre, that would translate into nearly a 1/3 loss in forage production because of the effects of area coverage, moisture use, and shading.
Any farmer worth their salt knows the importance of fertilizing a crop for optimal production. Often, this common knowledge stops at row crops or high value hay like alfalfa. Could a look at your fertility improve pasture and grass hay production next year?
Soil sampling now, before the ground freezes can help with planning this winter and give time to develop a fertility plan if our soil tests show fertilizer is needed. Hay ground should be the first location to consider testing, as plant material is constantly harvested and moved to another location, slowly depleting of the major nutrients needed for plant growth.
Cows that are unsound, came up empty this year, or have other problems that make them a drag on the herd are the typical targets of fall culling. With dry conditions this year, pasture grass has been scarce and we may decide to be a bit more critical of our animals when making the decision about who stays and who goes this year.