Cattle producers across Canada are considering grazing whole plant corn as a viable winter feeding option.
Dr. Bart Lardner from the Western Beef Development Centre says, corn is a crop that grows up to three and a half times the bio-mass as small grain cereal crops on less land.
"Another attraction may be this is a crop that actually exceeds the nutrient requirements of a beef cow in first, second trimester of pregnancy. Some cases in our cold winter months, there may not be a need to add additional energy supplementation."
Lardner says, if producers are thinking about planting grazing corn this spring, they need to do their agronomy homework.
"It's a crop that needs a lot of attention when you're seeding. In terms of precision, seeding suggests to use a corn planter not an air seeder. Also pay attention to fertility. Do a soil test, and make sure you're getting the correct number of seeds per acre."
He says, once the crop has emerged, weed pressure is huge.
"So make sure you're going out there with the proper herbicide, in many cases it's Roundup Ready, and at least two applications to suppress weeds. It's not a very competitive crop up until about knee height, so it does need that weed suppression."
Lardner encourages producers to start small if this is their first time using corn as a winter feeding option.
"Only grow five to ten acres to begin with until you feel comfortable that this system is going to work in with your other winter systems. You have a lot of input costs with this crop, make sure it's going to work for you where ever you live, and then slowly increase your acres as you feel comfortable."
For more information, you can visit the Beef Cattle Research Council's website.
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