5 tips for grazing corn this fall and winter



Corn grazing is becoming more popular across Canada because producers can grow more biomass on less land. If you are planning on grazing corn this winter, here are 5 tips to help you make the most of the corn grazing season:

Ease cattle into grazing corn
If this is the first time you are grazing corn, it may take some time for cattle to realize what they are supposed to do with the tall stalks. It is a good idea to slowly transition cattle from summer pasture to fall corn grazing. Regardless of how familiar they are with grazing, the rumen also takes some time to adapt to the new feed source. One way to do this is to provide access to only a couple days’ worth of feed and also supply cattle with an alternative feed source such as a bale of hay to help them through the transition period.

Limit cows to 3-4 days of feed
Inevitably when cattle are turned out, they will eat the best (more palatable) parts of the plant first, which is the cob. If cows Continue reading

Eight beef producers share their recent changes



Canadian beef producers appear to be keeping up with the often heard axiom “the only constant in life is change”. With that in mind, these eight beef producers from across the country talk about recent changes they’ve made or are making in their farming operations.

Some of the changes are management related, others are operational, some involve getting a broader perspective of expert advice, and another was about how to make a job simpler when you’re wearing your mitts.

They are fairly easy to moderate, sometimes major changes – even a series of relatively small tweaks — these producers are making in management and production practices that either improve their management skills, increase forage or beef production efficiency, or just increase their knowledge to ultimately help them achieve the bottom line goals — save time or money, reduce costs, increase returns, improve profitability.

TREVOR WELCH
GLASSVILLE, NB
Rotational grazing and forage stand improvements


Photo submitted by Trevor Welch

Trevor Welch has been developing a rotational grazing system on his western New Brunswick family farm over the past three years. Season long grazing was fairly successful with a small herd of beef cattle, but as he plans to expand the herd, he’s looking to increase the carrying capacity on a limited land base.

“We own most of our pasture land, and also rent some land as well,” says Welch, who is the fourth generation on the five generation farm — his son Taylor is interested in farming and his dad, Fred, is also still involved. As with most parts of Atlantic Canada a 40-acre pasture can produce enough forage to support a 30-cow beef herd for the season. “But with season-long grazing there were always some areas that would be underutilized and other areas that were overgrazed,” he says. The Welch’s run a herd of purebred and commercial Black Angus cattle. Continue reading

Planting corn this spring for your cattle to graze later? Here are 10 corn planting tips



It will soon be time to start thinking about next year’s winter feed. If you plan to graze your cows on corn next fall or winter, consider these recommendations on planting corn for grazing purposes from Breeanna Kelln, a PhD student at the Western Beef Development Centre (WBDC) who also ranches near Duval, SK, and Dr. Bart Lardner, Senior Research Scientist at the WBDC:

1. First time? Start small
Corn is a high input crop. It requires more time and inputs at the beginning of the growing season than cereals used for grazing. Kelln says there is a learning curve for both the producer and the cattle, especially for cattle who have never been exposed to extended grazing. Lardner recommends Continue reading

Different approaches/same goal for winter management of heifers

Recognizing replacement and first calf heifers need extra management, producers take different paths to get to the same destination.



Beef producers like Darren Bevans in Alberta, Tyler Fulton in Manitoba and Murray Shaw in southwest Ontario know that replacement and first calf heifers need some extra attention, especially heading into and over winter — the heifers are not only pregnant and about to produce calves, but these young females are still growing themselves.

The “extra attention” doesn’t require over the top management, but just paying attention to feed and weather conditions to ensure heifers maintain a proper body condition to meet the nutritional requirements of the unborn calf as well as to support their own body growth.

In their respective operations, with extended fall and winter grazing programs, Bevans and Fulton manage heifers separate from their main cowherds so that Continue reading

3 Tips for Swath and Bale Grazing



We’ll soon see cattle out in fields cleaning up swaths or feeding on bales. If you’re planning to feed your cattle this way into the winter months, here are a few recommendations to consider from a recent BCRC webinar.

Extended grazing methods, including swath, stockpiled and bale grazing, have considerable economic benefits over traditional winter feeding systems, such as reduced labour, equipment, feed and manure handling costs.

The related webinar, held last fall, featured Vern Baron, PhD, a Research Scientist for Agriculture Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Lacombe, Alberta, and John Duynisveld, a Research Biologist for AAFC in Nappan, Nova Scotia.

They discussed both swath and bale grazing and offered tips for producers across the country, including: Continue reading

Another Look at the Costs and Benefits of Swath Grazing

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.


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Well-managed swath grazing has well-known economic benefits for producers. But research results from a study funded by the Beef Science Cluster showed that it can have environmental benefits as well. Dr. Vern Baron and coworkers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lacombe Research Station recently published Swath grazing triticale and corn compared to barley and a traditional winter feeding method in central Alberta (Canadian Journal of Plant Science 94:1125-1137) and Effect of winter feeding systems on farm greenhouse gas emissions (Agricultural Systems 148:28-37).

What they did: A five-year winter feeding study was conducted in central Alberta (2008-09 through 2012-13). Angus x Hereford and Red Angus x Charolais cows were fed barley silage, barley grain, barley straw and hay in confinement, or swath-grazed on triticale or corn for 120 days. Confined cows were Continue reading

Will Swath Grazing in Late Summer Help Maintain Alfalfa in Rested Perennial Pastures?

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.


Reynold_April_Cattleman
Background:
Numerous studies have shown that maintaining 40% alfalfa in a forage stand is the most economical way of improving soil fertility, forage yields and animal grazing performance. Unfortunately, alfalfa drops below the 40% threshold level after several years of grazing.

Alfalfa drops out of perennial pastures partly due to Continue reading

New resources added to BodyConditionScoring.ca help cow-calf producers increase profits


cattle feed costs calculator to add body condition
New resources have been added to www.BodyConditionScoring.ca to help cow-calf producers make decisions about managing body condition in their cow herd. Cattle producers know that fat cover plays a crucial role in the reproduction, health and welfare of their animals. These new resources will help guide them when modifying practices on farm to better manage body condition and increase their herds’ productivity and profitability.

The new feed cost calculator gives producers the opportunity to compare the extra expense of adding condition to thin cows in the Fall to the extra value gained by the resulting larger calf crop. The calculator is Continue reading

Improved swath grazing through new annual forage varieties and grazing management

By improving agronomic and grazing management practices, researchers and producers have increased the yields of crops seeded for swath grazing. This has reduced overwintering feed costs for the cow herd. Aspects of swath grazing that could be improved are the overall nutritive value of the swathed-grazed crop and weathering during fall, winter and spring, which reduces carrying capacity.


Lead researcher Dr. Vern Baron offering tips when swath grazing in an episode of the Beef Research School: http://youtu.be/EzQ8KZoaG-8

Research currently underway and funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster is working to further improve pasture carrying capacity and reduce overwintering costs by evaluating new annual forage varieties and developing management strategies with improved forage quality that can be maintained throughout the swath grazing season.

This research will Continue reading

Creating a forage industry chair to maintain research expertise


Click to open fact sheet
Cow-calf producers in Western Canada have widely adopted extended fall and/winter grazing practices using both annual and perennial forages. However, competition with high value annual crops has resulted in higher land prices and decreased land base for forage production in many beef producing areas. Therefore, having expertise in integration of land, plant and animal management is critical to increasing the productivity of both the forage land base and cow herd.

Work funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster is supporting the establishment of a permanent Western Canada Forage Industry Chair at the University of Manitoba. The project will also provide leadership and technology transfer for Continue reading