Cornstalks have extra value as a supplemental livestock feed due to the drought-induced lack of forages this year, says Rory Lewandowski, an Ohio State University Extension ag educator.
“This corn residue is out there and sometimes not utilized at all,” says Lewandowski. Residue is an “overlooked resource that, especially in this type of year, can be a significant benefit for producers.
“Drought-stressed corn often yields more grain in harvest residue because some of the stressed stalks are susceptible to breaking, lodging and dropping ears, leaving more stalks and ears that don’t pass through the combine.”
He suggests that livestock producers fence-graze cornfields as soon as they are harvested and consider the following tips:
● Cornstalks and corn residue provide enough nutrients for dry cows. They aren’t adequate for high-production livestock such as dairy cows, young growing livestock or lactating beef cattle, sheep or goats.
● Baling may be an acceptable option, but chop stalks before baling to reduce particle length and increase forage utilization.
● Corn residue can be used as an ensiled product, baled and wrapped in plastic at a moisture level around 60%. It may be possible to push the moisture content to 55%, but the risk of poor fermentation increases with drier material, Lewandowski warns.