Ohio Beef Newsletter

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Well-known member
Jan 20, 2007
LaRue, Ohio
Forage Focus: What's "the rest of the story" on harvesting and feeding crop residue? - Stan Smith, Fairfield County PA, OSU Extension

With corn and soybeans coming off around Ohio and forage supplies remaining at critically low levels, the "question of the day" we're hearing now revolves around feeding the residue that remains after harvest. In August (Issue # 500 of the BEEF Cattle letter) Maurice Eastridge offered information regarding the considerable amount of energy and fiber as a forage source corn stover can offer. Yet, after visiting with colleagues John Grimes and Jeff McCutcheon in recent weeks, it seems that it might be a good time to review the palatability and practicality of utilizing crop residues such as corn stover and soybean stubble as a significant feed source.

Of the two, certainly soybean stubble bales must be viewed as a last resort unless you have a bale processor and feed it in limited quantities to "dilute" other high quality feeds in the ration. In fact, if your vision for utilizing soybean residue is simply placing bales of the "feed" in bale feeders, it's probably not worth the time, fuel, wear on the machinery, and effort it takes to gather it. While it can have 35-40% TDN and nearly 4% protein, this is less than wheat straw (review the article linked here by Steve Boyles on feeding straw). Simply put, as soybeans increase in maturity they increase in ligin and ligin is not digested well in the rumen. Soybean stubble might make marginal bedding, but twigs gathered from trees in your yard might make comparable feed.

While corn stover has much more merit than soybean residue as a feed source and may be viewed as comparable to average grass hay, palatability of the stalks can be a problem. The husks and kernels of corn that fall during the process of harvest are the most palatable, and will be readily consumed. This lends itself very nicely to grazing as by far the best method of harvesting corn residue, whereas, baling residue will likely cause loss of the kernels. Review this linked article from Jeff McCutcheon and Dave Samples on grazing management of harvested corn fields.

When it comes to baling and transporting corn residue - and especially if you're thinking about traveling very far with it - consumption versus waste becomes a consideration worth pondering. The husk, leaf, and any kernels in the bales, which will likely be a small percentage of each bale, will be readily consumed. If you have a bale processor, much of the stalk may be consumed also. However, if you're simply placing corn residue bales in bale rings, the abundance of corn stalks which will remain after the more desirable parts of the bale are consumed will likely become bedding. If you must feed baled corn residue in this fashion, consider simply pushing the chopper or spreader on the back of the combine forward and dropping the residue that comes through the thresher in a "windrow" and then bale only these windrows. The resulting bales will be a much higher percentage of the palatable portions of the corn residue.

As you consider baling and transporting baled corn residue to your cows, carefully consider the harvest and transportation costs involved on a "per consumable ton" basis. Simply feeding shelled corn may be more cost effective! In addition, review the following article on the fertilizer nutrient value you will be removing and possibly leaving in a pile at the bottom of your bale ring.

Nutrient Value of Corn Stover - Robert Mullen, OSU Extension Fertility Specialist

Some animal operations are interested in corn stover as a feed leading many crop producers to ask - what is the nutrient value of my corn stover?

From a pure fertilizer value, corn stover contains a little phosphorus (P2O5) and moderate amounts of nitrogen (N) and potassium (K2O). The actual amounts of N, P2O5, and K2O contained in a ton of corn stover are 16, 6, and 25 pounds, respectively. A 160 bushel per acre corn crop will produce 4.5 tons of stover per acre removing 72 pounds of N, 25 pounds of P2O5, and 113 pounds of K2O. Thus stover does have some fertilizer value especially with regard to potassium that may require some additional fertilizer input in subsequent years, but soil testing should be conducted to validate the need for additional nutrients.

Corn stover also contains organic matter that when returned to the soil does have value, but it is difficult to put a dollar value on it. Continued removal of the above ground stover may have negative repercussions in the long-run in the form of decreased soil organic matter, especially if some organic residue is not returned to the soil.

Additional Considerations for Drought Stressed Pastures this Fall - Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Knox County

Now I am worried. From measurements various graziers have been taking on a weekly basis the forage growth for September was flat. On several farm visits I came away with the impression that we were drier now than mid summer. The worry comes from knowing you need feed and knowing what the forages are doing this fall.

Fall is a critical time for our cool season perennial forages. In the cooler temperatures, leaf growth is slower while photosynthesis does not slow down. This increases the reserve carbohydrates in the plant. Cool season forages in the fall store reserve carbohydrates and use them to develop new tillers and roots. Carbohydrate storage, new tiller and root development can only happen if there is enough leaf area for photosynthesis. These three things are accomplished with little additional leaf growth. Making management decisions that negatively impact this development will hurt survival over winter and growth next year.

The first thing is keep from overgrazing. Overgrazing now could ruin next years forage production. Remember, overgrazing occurs when you keep animals in a field too long, or bring the animals back before the forages have recovered.

Overgrazing can be avoided by paying attention to forage residual, grazing time and rest. You should leave at least 1200-1500 lbs. of DM per acre or 2-3" of green forage when you pull animals from a field. You should remove the animals before the forage starts to regrow. The pasture should recover to above 2400 lbs. of DM acre or 6-8" before turning the animals into a field.

How can we avoid over grazing when we are running out of a limited supply of hay? One option is grazing corn residue as suggested earlier in this letter. Corn harvest has started and the residue that is left in the field is not a bad feed for about 60 days after harvest. Check out: http://ohioline.osu.edu/anr-fact/0010.html

Another option is limit feeding corn. If you have to buy feed this is the least expensive option. Check out the next article from Steve Loerch.

We can help our pastures by fertilizing. Fall is an excellent time to apply fertilizer to our pastures. Fall is the time when most of our forage plants are growing roots, developing tillers and storing energy for winter. Proper soil pH and adequate soil nutrients will enhance forage competitiveness. Take a soil test and follow the recommendations.

Nitrogen can be applied in fall. Late fall applications of nitrogen, from October through November, will increase grass tillering, root growth, and energy storage. This will help with spring green-up and improve competition against weeds. Apply after grass growth has slowed, but before the plant has gone dormant. Use a low rate of 30 to 40 pounds of N per acre.

Corn as an Alternative to Hay for Gestating and Lactating Beef Cows - Steven C. Loerch, Animal Sciences Department, The Ohio State University

Corn grain is the least expensive harvested feed per unit of digestible energy available to producers in Ohio. The most common feed used for wintering cows is hay. This is despite the fact that hay costs 50 to 100% more than corn, per unit of energy. Corn priced at $3.00/bu is worth $107/ton. Because hay has only about half the energy value as corn grain, the breakeven price for hay on an energy basis would be approximately $54/ton. To add needed supplement to the corn brings the breakeven price to $62/ton. In many situations it is economically advantageous to use corn rather than hay to meet the energy requirements of cows.

Cows, and all other animals, require a certain amount of energy (calories) per day. If a low energy feed like hay is fed, cows can be full-fed. If corn is used to provide most of the energy, then intake has to be restricted so the animals don't get fat. We have developed a limit-fed, corn-based nutrition program which has been tested with sheep and cattle. The procedures we used to meet the nutrient needs of gestating and lactating cows is outlined below. Some forage has to be fed to maintain a healthy rumen.

1. Feed 5 lbs first cutting hay, supplement and 12 lbs whole shelled corn (per cow basis). The protein and mineral supplement should be similar to that used for feedlot cattle fed a high-grain diet. An example is given below.

2. Feed corn whole. Ohio State research shows that whole corn works better than ground corn when daily hay intake is limited to less than five pounds.

3. Adjust corn intake to achieve desired weight and/or body condition score. Cows will need about 1% of their body weight during cold winter months and as they enter lactation.

4. When starting the program, take 7-10 days adjusting up the corn and decreasing hay to the 5 lb level. Make sure bunk space is adequate so all cows get their share and that cows are in a securely fenced area.

5. Example supplement (feed at 2 lb/cow/day):

Ground corn                        32.1
Soybean meal                    45.6
Urea                                      4.1
Limestone                            7.8
Dicalcium phosphate            4.3
Trace mineral salt                3.2
Dyna K                                2.3
Selenium premix (200 ppm)    .4
Vitamin premix:
(Vit A, 15,000 IU/gram;
Vitamin D, 1,500 IU/gram)    .2
Rumensin 80:
(192 mg Rumensin/hd/d)      .12

NOTE: This supplement contains the following nutrients: Crude protein, 36%; Calcium, 3.76%; Phosphorus, 1.00%. If using a commercial supplement, feed according to bag instructions.

6. Example Start up:
Day 1 and 2 Feed 4 lbs whole shelled corn + 1 lb supplement + 12 lbs hay
Day 3 and 4 Feed 6 lbs corn + 1 lb supplement + 8 lbs hay
Day 5 and 6 Feed 8 lbs corn + 1 lb supplement + 5 lbs hay
Day 7 and 8 Feed 10 lbs corn + 1 lb supplement + 5 lbs hay
After Day 8 Feed 12 lbs corn + 1 lb supplement + 5 lbs hay; adjust corn based on cow condition(cold weather; pre- and post-calving). Adjust up or down 2 lbs if cows are getting too thin or too fat.
Supplement should be 30-40% protein (protein source doesn't matter; NPN is ok)., 4-5% Calcium, and should contain Rumensin or Bovatec. Hay quality is not important; straw, stalks, or poor quality first cutting hay is fine.

Weekly Roberts Agricultural Commodity Market Report - Mike Roberts, Commodity Marketing Agent, Virginia Tech

LIVE CATTLE futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) finished down on Monday. The OCT'07LC contract settled at $96.225/cwt, off $0.725/cwt and $1.425/cwt lower than last Monday. DEC'07LC futures finished at $98.600/cwt, off $1.20/cwt and $2.175/cwt lower than a week ago. Fund selling and profit taking by locals pressured prices. Lower hog prices did not help. Beef lost support amid ample hog supplies and shrinking sales. Cash cattle expectations are that they have topped around last week's $96-$96.50/cwt. Large meat supplies and negative beef plant margins are pressuring prices. According to HedgersEdge.com, the average beef plant margin for Monday was a negative $39.15/head, $10.65/head worse than Friday but only $4.90/head worse off than last Monday. Early on Monday USDA put the choice boxed beef cutout at $146.59/cwt, up $0.19/cwt. Technical support waned last Monday after breaking resistance at $97.476/cwt amid a symmetrical triangular pattern. This pattern suggested some movement to the upside; however it proved to be a false signal when that high was posted. In October futures prices should trade in an ever narrowing pattern until something triggers movement to the upside … like cheaper corn. That is not the case for December. More meat equals lower prices. Cash sellers should consider cattle that are sell-ready off the feedlot. It might be a good idea to hold off pricing near-term corn inputs if you can. Corn prices are expected to succumb to harvest pressure.

FEEDER CATTLEcontracts at the CME closed down on Monday. OCT'07FC futures closed $1.225/cwt lower at $115.075/cwt and $1.175/cwt lower than last week at this time. The NOV'07FC contract finished at $114.950/cwt, down $1.675/cwt. Lower live cattle and hogs put the pressure on feeder cattle futures. Fund-based and technical selling amid light trading added to the skid. There is some merit to the idea that demand for replacement feeders will be limited if demand for fat cattle loses ground because of heavy meat supplies. Cash feeder demand has already seen some slippage in recent weeks. The latest CME Feeder Cattle index for September 27 was posted at $116.04/cwt, up $0.11/cwt but off $0.30/cwt from a week ago. It might be a good idea to price some feeder sales now but hold off on buying corn inputs at this time. Corn prices are bound to get better.

CORN on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) ended down on Monday a range of 3¢/bu - 5¢/bu cents amid harvest pressure and the promise of large ending stocks. The DEC'07 contract finished at $3.686/bu, off 4.2¢/bu and 4.8¢/bu lower than last week. MAR'08 futures also finished off 3.6¢/bu at $3.854/bu and 3.6¢/bu lower than a week ago. The report released last Friday was definitely bearish. Late on Monday USDA put the U.S. corn crop at 31% harvested and estimated 1.304 billion bu in storage versus analyst's guesstimates of 1.146 billion bu. Good weather and good yields are being reported across the Corn Belt. This news served to put a lid on corn prices even though they were supported by a good showing in wheat and consistent good demand. The December chart shows that is it trying to go back and fill the bullish gap established week before last. Cash bids for corn in the U.S. Midwest were steady to firm across most locations as producers were reluctant to let go of their corn. Opening bids for cash corn in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic States found weakness in prices ranging from 6¢/bu - 14¢/bu lower on Monday. The CFTC Commitment of Traders report placed large speculators in bull positions at 146,700 contracts, up 28,900 lots for the week ended September 25. Producers having sold 50% or more of this year's crop and more of the crop on the past two week's rally are in good condition. It might pay to store or consider buying a put option at this time.