Corn stalk grazing can be an ideal forage option for ruminant livestock in early to mid-gestation, said Rory Lewandowski, a forage expert from Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
"After the combine goes through the field, the residue that is left includes the stalk, husks, leaves, corn kernels and cobs," he said. "Studies have shown there can be about a bushel of corn grain per acre that could be out there on these fields.
"This is a viable resource that is available and can be utilized by livestock. Take advantage of it - don't overlook corn stalks as a viable and valuable feed resource."
Generally, corn residue is comprised of 49% stalks, 27% leaves and 12% each of husks and cobs, according to a 2004 University of Nebraska report on corn stalk grazing, Lewandowski said.
"Livestock typically will eat any corn grain first," he said. "Then, livestock typically will eat the plant leaves and husks, with the residual cobs and stalks typically eaten last."
Producers can use solar-powered portable fencing systems to contain livestock on a cornfield with little effort, Lewandowski said.
"In addition to the nutritional benefit corn stalk grazing can allow livestock, that grazing can also provide a break for perennial grass pastures and allow those grass plants to build up carbohydrate reserves during the fall period," he said.
The University of Nebraska also offers a corn stalk grazing calculator that can be used to estimate acres needed to effectively corn stalk graze, how many acres are needed to graze a certain number of cattle, and more.
While corn stalk grazing may require additional fencing, as Lewandowski noted, it may also require producers to consider other factors, like supplements and access to water.
Continue reading about corn stalk grazing, and see the 6 ways to use the UNL corn stalk grazing calculator, on the BEEF Magazine website.