cattleOHIO COUNTY, Ky. (11/19/19) — As winter approaches, some producers are questioning if their hay inventories will last until spring, especially if you had to start feeding hay early due to the drought. Cornstalks can extend hay inventories, but their use comes with some important considerations.

The best forage quality from the corn crop residues is in the leaves and husks. The cobs and stalks are lower in digestibility with protein concentration ranging from only 3 to 6 percent, which is too low to meet the needs of cattle. The residual corn left in the field is not going to be captured in the bales, which lowers the feeding value compared to grazing the field.

The energy levels in cornstalk bales vary depending on the stalk to leaf ratio within the bale. Typical ranges are from 48 to 58 percent. Additionally, the high moisture levels of the stalks make baling and storing corn residue more difficult.

Feeding cornstalk bales can result in high levels of waste. Cattle will pick through a bale, eating the leaves and husks while leaving behind the stalks. For this reason, the best way to utilize corn crop residues for feed is having the bales processed or by flail chopping the residue in the field to improve drying. Processed bales can be fed in a total mixed ration or along a feedbunk.

U.K. Extension Beef Specialist, Jeff Lehmkuhler, recommends feeding baled corn residues to dry, mid- gestation cows, remembering to supplement nutrients to meet diet requirements. Cattle fed cornstalks should be in good body condition and not be experiencing any environmental stresses, such as cold and mud.
Environmental stresses on cattle will require additional supplementation. An example diet for a mid-gestation cow of 15 pounds of cornstalks, 1.5 gallons of condensed distillers solubles (distillers syrup), and 2 pounds of soybean hulls plus minerals, will meet the nutritional requirements of a cow in mid-gestation.
Significant energy and protein supplementation are needed for lactating, fall-calving cows. Producers should work with a nutritionist to ensure nutrient needs are being met. Dr. Lehmkuhler recommends hay for lactating cows, but he notes that cornstalks may be worked into the diet to stretch hay supplies with proper supplementation.

To extend hay inventories, feeding cornstalk bales is a reasonable option. Remember to work with a nutritionist to meet all nutritional requirements and supplement as needed.

NEW TOOL PROVIDES GRAIN PRODUCERS IMPACT OF DISEASES

Kentucky grain producers have a new, free tool at their disposal to see the past yield losses and economic impacts of common diseases affecting corn and soybeans. This tool can help them plan their disease management strategy for the upcoming growing season.
Developed by the Crop Protection Network, the “Field Crop Disease Loss Calculator” can tell producers how much in losses a particular disease cost farmers in their state in any given year.

Each year, Extension Plant Pathologists and researchers at land-grant universities and members of several corn and soybean disease working groups review and revise disease loss estimates. They review data from producer and university surveys, U.S. Department of Agriculture reports, personal observations, and other metrics. Then, they calculate loss estimates based on the expected production prior to the loss. Average losses are determined by dividing statewide economic losses by acres planted. The corn calculator includes disease information for 2012 through 2016, and the soybean disease data covers 1996 through 2017. More recent data are currently being added to the calculator. Producers can use this historical data to estimate the impacts of diseases on our crops.

“This tool not only gives us the average bushels lost in the state and the resulting economic impacts of a particular disease, but can help us see which diseases are becoming more or less problematic over time. Knowing this information can help us prioritize research needs and ultimately help farmers manage diseases to prevent economic loss” according to Kiersten Wise, Extension Plant Pathologist at U.K.

For example, the tool shows that damage from the soybean cyst nematode annually costs Kentucky producers about $9.58 per acre, with average losses ranging from $3.99 per acre in 2010 to as high as $20.69 per acre in 2013. In corn, southern rust is an annual threat, but only periodically causes significant economic damage. For example, in 2016, Kentucky producers lost $23.83 per acre on average due to the disease, but in the three years prior, producers only lost, on average, $1 to $5 an acre due to the same disease.

Kentucky producers can also see the impacts of diseases in other states, regions and Ontario, Canada.  The calculator is available at http://loss.cropprotectionnetwork.org. Plant pathologists will update it each year as they calculate disease loss estimates.  The Crop Protection Network is a multistate and international partnership of university and provincial extension specialists and public and private professionals that provides unbiased, research-based information.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
• Nov. 19 – Ohio County Extension Council Mtg.; O.C. Extension Center; 5:30 p.m.
• Dec. 4-7 - KY Farm Bureau Convention; Galt House, Louisville
• Dec. 11 – Green River Agribusiness & Lender Conference; Daviess Co. Extension Office; 9:00 a.m. until noon
• Jan – Mid-March - Green River Master Cattlemen Series (for more info. Contact Extension Office)
• Jan. 7 – U.K. Winter Wheat Meeting; Seimer Milling Conference Center, Princeton
• Jan 6-7 - KY Fruit & Vegetable Growers Conference; Embassy Suites Hotel, Lexington
• Jan 9 – “Managing Cow-Calf Operations for Profit” Conference; Hopkins Co.
• Jan. 15 – Intensive Soybean Management Workshop; Holiday Inn University Plaza Hotel, Bowling Green
• Jan.16 – KY Commodity Conference; Sloan Convention Center, Bowling Green
• Feb. 6 – Vegetable Production Update Webinar; Ohio Co. Extension Center; 6:00 until 7:30 p.m.

• 
SurfKY News
• Information provided by Jodi L. Williams, Ohio County Extension Office

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