Grazing cows on stalks.

Brandi Salestrom

Brandi Salestrom

Many of us are relieved to have enough corn out of the field to finally get our cows on stalks. Before doing so there are some important factors to consider…

  • Amount of ears dropped on ground this year
  • How can you adapt cattle to corn
  • Should an Ionophore be used like Rumensin
  • Do you need a protein supplement

20171030_182711After visiting with nutritionists and a local veterinarian they all agree there is no “silver bullet” when it comes to adapting cattle to the amount of starch they will consume when turned out to stalks. With the recent winds, we are seeing large amounts of ears left on the ground which is concerning cattle owners. Cows with grazing experience will look for grain on the ground immediately after turn out. If any grain has been left in piles in the field it is important to get those piles cleaned up before cows have the chance to consume them.  Young calves on their first trip out to the stalks won’t be conditioned to head to the corn piles like their more experienced herd members.  This is an advantage because they will be able to acclimate to the increased corn in their diet easier. If time allows cattle can be fed a few pounds of corn and work them up to 7lbs over a 10 day period prior to turn out. Also fencing the stalks to minimize the amount of area available to consume corn can be beneficial. Hungry cattle will over eat if given the opportunity so feed cattle before turning them out and leave bales out in the stalks as well. Ionophore supplements such as rumensin can reduce risk as well as products like sodium bicarbonate.

As the grain is consumed and the husks and leaves decline it is important to body condition score your cows. Cows are supporting themselves as well as a calf which requires more energy. Protein supplements such as cubes, tubs or liquids can help cattle during the cold winter months as well as a mineral supplement. Cows can graze through snow but fields covered in ice are difficult for them. I believe that good management is the most important factor when it comes to caring for our cattle on stalks.

If producers have questions please contact any of our CVA Feed Sales team and we would be happy to visit about options to effectively manage their herd throughout the changing seasons.