Improving cornstalks for feed
The Beef Forage Field Day will be held at night, Sept. 20, at the University of Missouri South Farm.
"We could call it a poor-forage management program," says Justin Sexten, MU beef nutritionist. He oversees research and extension at the farm located under the TV tower on Highway 63.
Registration starts at 5:30 p.m., with an outdoor program at 6 p.m.
"We'll show what we have for getting the cows through the winter," Sexten says. He, like most farmers, knows what it is like to start feeding hay early.
Two demonstrations will show ways to improve nutrition from cornstalks and poor-quality CRP hay.
First, some high-nitrate stalks have been treated with anhydrous ammonia. "Ammoniation boosts protein and improves digestibility," Sexten says. "It's an old, proven process that becomes economically feasible with higher feed prices."
The other process, using hydrated lime, is largely unknown but has created lots of questions, Sexten says. Corn stover will be treated with calcium hydroxide.
"We have no research results on feeding hydrated stalks to beef cows," Sexten said. "We will be learning. But we do know it increases digestibility in the rumen."
Sexten will also discuss use of poor-quality hay cut from Conservation Reserve Program acres.
To reduce waste of his limited supply of good hay, Sexten bought new "waste-free" bale feeders. He will compare the old bale rings with the new feeders this winter.
"We do have a big pile of nitrate-free silage," Sexten said of the MU Beef Farm. "However, we will mix it with something to extend the use." He figures that will stimulate discussion.
The program will be in the evening to attract beef-herd owners who have day jobs off-farm.
The Missouri Corn Growers Association provides the free meal. "However, you must call to let us know what to tell the cook." Phone reservations to 573-882-2829.
A look at beef research and the cornstalk demonstrations will be outside, during daylight. Then the group will move into the classroom for supper and talks on nutrition and management.
A big part of the program will be answering questions, Sexten says. Lots of new things are being tried to overcome the shortage of high-quality hay.
There are many options for replacing fiber in the cow's diet, he says. "We will tell what we know and show some things we are trying."
Many people have questions about baling corn stover, which is being tried for the first time by many. "We know it is easy to jam up a baler," he adds.
The MU Beef Farm is located seven miles south of Columbia. Visitors from the north will learn about the new J turn on Highway 63, Sexten said. "You'll drive by the beef farm, then turn back north on the four-lane. Now, all visitors will turn right onto Old Millers Road just south of the KOMU-TV station. Beef Farm signs and entrance road are just behind the tower.
The Beef Farm is part of the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.