Corn for Grazing

Commodity Marketing

Tools

Corn for Grazing

Jan 7, 2019 | 12:41 1 Thinking about seeding corn this spring for winter grazing next year. What are the pros and cons of this other than the $200.00/ acre inputs and the risk of drought again. Reply With Quote
Jan 7, 2019 | 15:00 2 Risk of drought is probably in the Pro column, not the Con column, it handled the record dry conditions here this year very well, it was a pleasure to watch it still actively growing and lush when everything else had long since given up. I grew it on very heavy, rich, borderline wet black ground. But a couple neighbors grew it on much lighter dryer ground and even there it was amazing how well it did compared to other crops under the same stress.

2018 was my first attempt and only small scale, it was a roller coaster, and steep learning curve. Seeded too early into cold wet soil, and poor depth consistency, resulted in very delayed and uneven emergence, somehow, some plants took 2 months to emerge, not even sure how that is possible. Then it never rained again. Was very disappointing for a long time, till mid summer when it made up for my mistakes, and actually stooled out with multiple stalks per plant and made multiple ears per plant. Best spots were 9' tall. Never did get close to the tons I would have expected, but according to the seed salesman, it wasn't far off the average expected cow days per acre.

Ours froze in August, ears were mostly mush after that, everyone I asked said not to worry about nitrates. Cows were indifferent at their first introduction, but quickly figured it out, ate the ears and leaves. They are supposed to eat the stalks eventually, and I tried supplementing them, and forcing them, but there was no way they would eat the stalks, even the finer top of the stalks, they were threatening to mutiny, and many in fact fulfilled their threats, so I had to keep moving the fence without cleaning up stalks. Other than the stalks, there was little to no waste.

The conclusion this year with expensive feed is that silaging it is a much better option to salvage the entire plant. I wanted an option that would work with deep snow, and not require feeding equipment. Which it did sucessfully, but I could have got many more cow days off the same acres with swath grazing or silage this year, partly due to the seeding conditions. I'll probably try again, hiring a custom planter is highly recommended, but need enough acres to justify it for them. Reply With Quote
Jan 7, 2019 | 17:04 3 Thanks for the reply AF5 lots of wisdom there, historically what has been the tons/acre in that area and has anyone attempted cutting and baling corn or would that be just taking a short walk through hell if logistics wouldn't allow cattle on the field.
Did you use a planter or a air drill to seed in the spring.
What about existing residue, will you have to harrow or disc before seeding this spring and what crop follows corn best. Reply With Quote
Jan 7, 2019 | 17:56 4 where are you at rum rocks Reply With Quote
Jan 7, 2019 | 18:38 5 We've been 3 years at it now and are still learning. I think it's worth it if you're in a good corn growing area - I'm sceptical how well it will do for AF5, knowing the area he's in and the research plots done in that area - lack of heat units in a non-drought year would be the issue. It wouldn't enjoy a cool, wet west country summer!
We grazed it the first 2 years and silaged this year as we were so short of other feed. Utilisation was better than AF5 indicated but you will never get them to eat all the stalks. I view it like bale grazing - the years you have plenty feed graze it and accept the soil benefit of the extra residue. Improvement in soil condition and fertility has been incredible after corn for reasons that nobody can really explain. Corn on corn works great too which is counter-intuitive. Don't think seeder or planter matters - we've done both - next attempt will be seeding on 15" rows versus 30". Residue will be an issue if grazing, maybe even after silage. Most prefer to do a vertical tillage pass anyway to get the soil warming up earlier and for weed control. I'd prefer to direct seed but suspect that the tillage first is better for the corn. We have a neighbour that bales and tubeline wraps his every year - seems to work Ok but I wouldn't like to do it on a large scale. Next year if we finish up grazing it I think I'll swath it first - I think I could get better utilisation that way.
Like any of the newer systems there is a lot of B/S from the promotors - the seed guys that calculate grazing days by taking a crop clip to establish yield and dividing by 30lbs - with no allowance for what doesn't get eaten. I don't believe half the figures guys quote for cow days per acre - once you've done it and know what a crop looks like then you see a picture or video of a lot smaller crop where they are claiming twice the cow days/acre.
I think 15 tons would be a good but achievable crop for us without going crazy on inputs. Last year we were late, hailed and droughted and only managed 9 tons but that's better than hay or greenfeed crops did relatively. Reply With Quote
Jan 7, 2019 | 19:02 6 Tried corn a decade ago and didn’t work for me but varieties and knowledge have improved to see some consistent results by neighbours. What I don’t care for it is the fencing and cows not respecting the fence. The secret and same goes for swaths is the shorter allotment the better the cleanup. No different than putting out bales. Two or three days worth of feed is cleaned up better than a weeks worth. A cows stomach takes 3 days to completely process and pass what it eats. With corn the cows pick cobs first then go for the rest. Seems like a way more work but a three day max allotment would probably keep the plane of nutrition more consistent and stop cows from trying to let themselves into the fresh patch. A weeks worth the cow pick off cobs first few days then starve last couple on stover. The dips and dives in nutrition isn’t good for the cows or your bottom line. Reply With Quote
Jan 7, 2019 | 20:12 7 Thanks for the info, but here in the SW of Sask. as always it comes down to the lack of rainfall 80% of the time, as Old Dirty Harry put it
"Do You Feel Lucky Punk" Reply With Quote
Jan 7, 2019 | 20:17 8 Is there any off patent RR corn?
To minimize risk that would be a decent option.

(This is an option with soybeans.) Reply With Quote
Jan 7, 2019 | 21:50 9 Wilton ranch - agree on the frequent moves. We gave them 1 or 2 days at a time then gave a day or so of alfalfa silage to balance it out and get them to clean up better. We could fence them Ok until the year we got 3 feet of snow on the level with 6-8" drifts hard enough for them to walk on!

rumrocks, your area would scare me without irrigation. US guys I've read don't advocate growing corn in areas with less than 25" annual precip - so we are short of that and you'd be shorter still! Have you tried German millet? you can get a decent crop on 4" of moisture and in a good year you can grow a big crop of that stuff. It would like your heat too.

Oliver88, don't know about off patent RR but you can get non-GMO that will yield as every bit as good as RR but just needs a different weed strategy. (should add the seed is about 2/3 the cost too) Reply With Quote
LEP
Jan 7, 2019 | 22:36 10 Don't think seeder or planter matters - we've done both - next attempt will be seeding on 15" rows versus 30". Residue will be an issue if grazing, maybe even after silage.

I have to disagree with you. I am friends with a guy who seeds a few hundred acres of corn and has tried several methods of seeding. He uses a planter now and won't consider anything else.

He grows corn for grazing on the most marginal land in the area year after year and it does seem to be improving. He said any schools he went to on growing corn emphasized that there are a 100(ish) different things that need to be done correctly to get the best yield. All he can do is try and improve each year.

A planter is the biggest thing you can do to get the best yield. Reply With Quote
Jan 7, 2019 | 22:38 11
Quote Originally Posted by rumrocks View Post
Thanks for the reply AF5 lots of wisdom there, historically what has been the tons/acre in that area and has anyone attempted cutting and baling corn or would that be just taking a short walk through hell if logistics wouldn't allow cattle on the field.
Did you use a planter or a air drill to seed in the spring.
What about existing residue, will you have to harrow or disc before seeding this spring and what crop follows corn best.
I don't know of any silage corn yields locally. We did some droughted/frozen canola this year and in 2015, and it ran about 14 tons (wet), I would have expected a lot more than that from corn, but maybe am unrealistic?

Not sure what tools you would use to cut it with, I'm told that swather reels don't get along with corn stalks very well. Discbine or haybine would need a very solid push bar out front, not sure what the crimpers would do, if anything? Not sure how long it would take a stalk to dry down late in the fall, it can take weeks for greenfeed to dry around here, and it doesn't have a stem 1.5" diameter to cure out. Could likely dry it standing up, then cut and bale, but would lose a lot of leaves.

I used air seeder, blocked off every second run in the towers. Double shooted(new word)the fertilizer at the same time, which is not recommended. Neighbor who does it every year uses an IH seed drill with runs blocked off. Another hired a planter. It needs a very black mellow seed bed. I did a small area no-till and it barely emerged eventually.

They tell me that corn follows corn best, no disease build up. Neighbor grows grazing corn on the same field every year and doesn't even add fertilizer. Reply With Quote
Jan 7, 2019 | 22:42 12
Quote Originally Posted by LEP View Post
A planter is the biggest thing you can do to get the best yield.
Yes, it is tempting to think that it wouldn't matter for grazing or silage, but real world experience proves otherwise. Every seed has to emerge at the exact same time and the exact same spacing, otherwise they view other plants as competition. Reply With Quote
Jan 8, 2019 | 07:32 13
Quote Originally Posted by AlbertaFarmer5 View Post
Yes, it is tempting to think that it wouldn't matter for grazing or silage, but real world experience proves otherwise. Every seed has to emerge at the exact same time and the exact same spacing, otherwise they view other plants as competition.
It's not that I don't think it matters I just don't think there is one size fits all. The best crop and best establishment we had was the year we used an airseeder. Having wide rows puts plants 30" apart across rows but real tight to their neighbour in the row. That's why I think 15" rows would be better - more checkerboard effect and less area of no plants where weeds started. I also think the obsession with every plant being identical size - the perfect monoculture - is of more relevance to grain yield if you are cropping it. Having some plants at slightly different growth stages in the fall when growth shuts down is an advantage, not a disadvantage in the grazing situation. It's why many guys advocate mixing different CHU varieties within the same stand. Reply With Quote
Jan 8, 2019 | 08:20 14
Quote Originally Posted by grassfarmer View Post
It's not that I don't think it matters I just don't think there is one size fits all. The best crop and best establishment we had was the year we used an airseeder. Having wide rows puts plants 30" apart across rows but real tight to their neighbour in the row. That's why I think 15" rows would be better - more checkerboard effect and less area of no plants where weeds started. I also think the obsession with every plant being identical size - the perfect monoculture - is of more relevance to grain yield if you are cropping it. Having some plants at slightly different growth stages in the fall when growth shuts down is an advantage, not a disadvantage in the grazing situation. It's why many guys advocate mixing different CHU varieties within the same stand.
I have no first hand experience, but research and experienced growers indicates that you will get more tons per acre with an identical picket fence stand. And like you say, narrow row spacing is better for silage, and weed competition at least according to AAFC study: https://www.topcropmanager.com/corn/...pulations-1239 I don't know how hard is it to find a 15" planter though? Reply With Quote
Jan 8, 2019 | 18:16 15
Quote Originally Posted by AlbertaFarmer5 View Post
I don't know how hard is it to find a 15" planter though?
That's simple enough around here - soy beans are seeded on 15" rows so the same drill can be used for both - just change out the plates. They only use half the shanks(?) when seeding corn on 30" rows. Reply With Quote