North Central Research Extension Center


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Grazing Wind Damaged Corn

Recent high winds resulted in considerable down corn in areas of the state just prior to harvest. Reports of up to 70% of theDamaged Corn potential yield lost to stocks and ears on the ground create a situation of a lot of potential feed left in the field which could be used for grazing. Some caution is advised as a risk of cattle over eating corn grain and experiencing rumen acidosis and digestive problems exists. This could lead to founder, lameness, abortion, and possibly death.

Several management practices should be used in this situation of turning cattle into fields with a lot of readily accessible corn grain. First only turn into a field cattle that have probably been hayed prior to turn in (not hungry); and provide cows access to pasture grazing or set out hay bales while grazing the corn field. Secondly, consider if cattle could be acclimated to the corn by limiting access by strip grazing small areas at the start or limiting time in the field to a couple of hours. Alternatively, cattle might be acclimated by feeding corn in pasture prior to turn in on corn field for a week by starting with a pound of shell corn per head per day and slowly increasing to five to six pounds.

Some producers who routinely graze standing corn for winter feeding utilize an ionophore in the cows supplement or mineral to help manage digestive problems. Under the situation of a diet of high grain levels and low quality stover, a good vitamin mineral supplement will be needed. With high grain intake, calcium may be low as well as Vitamin A and trace elements. As long as grain is available (and present in manure), energy and protein levels will be high and likely adequate. Feeding or providing some palatable hay will help maintain rumen function.  As the grain is cleaned up, protein supplementation may be needed to utilize the remaining stover.

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