Backgrounding Calves On Cornstalk Residue

With the current high costs for feed, fuel, and fertilizer, there is a renewed emphasis on utilizing low-cost feedstuffs to put weight on calves. Feedlot operators are looking to place heavier cattle on feed to shorten the finishing period, so it is left to cow/calf producers and backgrounders to determine the best way to put extra pounds on calves prior to entry into the feedlot.

In a recent Minnesota Farm Guide article, Dr. Ryon Walker of the U of M Beef Team detailed backgrounding calves on grass as a management option. Another option for backgrounding calves is to utilize corn stalk residue after harvest. In 2007 Minnesota ranked fourth in the United States with 7.8 million acres of corn harvested. In theory this abundance of corn stalk residue could serve as an excellent low cost feedstuff for weaned calves or wintering cows, however, it is estimated by the American Forage and Grassland Council that only 25% of crop residues nationwide are utilized each year. The corn plant has 50-55% of its weight in stalks, leaves, husks, and cobs.

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