Will there be a drought again in the Northern Plains next year? No one knows sure. But some farmers and ranchers are making plans for one.
Today’s drought strategies should reflect the boom in corn acres in the Dakotas, says Greg Lardy, head of the North Dakota State University Animal Science Department.
You can feed cattle corn, corn stover and wet or dried distillers grains or turn cattle out on corn stalks to graze corn residue.
“The best way to utilize corn residue is to graze it and allow the cow to select the higher quality material,” Lardy says. “In this scenario, you can allow the cow to consume the leaf and husk but not force her to consume lower quality portions of the plant, such as the stalk.”
You also can feed cattle baled corn stover or wheat straw. Work with a nutritionist to balance a ration specifically for the class of cattle you are feeding, Lardy advises. Corn stover or wheat straw can make up about 40% of the ration, but other sources of nutrients such as DDGs, cereal grains, ag processing byproducts and high quality forages will be required.
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