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  #1  
Old 01/23/07, 04:11 PM
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
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Corn stalks, sunflowers for feed Q

Just thinking of supplemental winter feed for dairy goats.
Could I grow and dry WHOLE corn plants and sunflower plants and store them for winter feed? Would a goat eat it or just take the leaves/corn/seeds?

Seems like an easy way to make your own feed though I'm not sure the goat would eat the stalks?

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  #2  
Old 01/23/07, 04:14 PM
Working toward the dream
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Northwest PA
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Our goats ate corn stalks last fall.... I don't know how nutritious they are, but they are good filler.

Don't know about the sunflower stalks, but ours love the seeds!

Kitty

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  #3  
Old 01/23/07, 04:15 PM
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We feed our goats whole sunflower plants and whole corn stalks (both field corn and sweet corn). But we don't dry them. We just cut them down out in the field and throw them over the fence.
The goats will eat the sunflowers quite systematically. Seeds first, then whatever remains of the heads, then leaves and finally the stem.

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  #4  
Old 01/23/07, 04:36 PM
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Tennessee
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The parts of corn have highly variable nutrient quality. It ranks: seed, leaves, cob, stalk. My goats eat 100% of corn I chop green and toss out to them in fall as a byproduct after it is done in my garden. The BEST way to do corn for long-term feed would be as silage, but that requires that you have a place to ferment it (pit silo or some such) and that you green chop it. All added expenses.

I would also say please consider all your costs of growing the corn. I think you will find that a 50-pound sack of grain will cost you less in protein and TDN than that whole plant costs you to grow as a dedicated feedstuff. If that were not true, all Midwest farmers would be raising livestock on their own feeds.

If you are growing sweet corn for consumption or sale, it is a simple matter to fence your patch and let the goats run in it to clean up after your harvest. Let them eat it all up, then close them back out...and you get the fertilizer benefit! That way, you are getting use out of a waste product in the remaining corn plants.

As far as feeds, I personally am not tied to any one type or kind, but rather to cost for protein and TDN. A dry goat who is open or in early pregnancy needs 16% protein minimum intake, and can get that through pasture, hay and supplemental feeding. A late pregnancy or lactating goat needs about 18-20% protein intake.

If you feed much more protein than that from all sources daily, the goat is just peeing that extra onto the ground. So for example, if you feed free choice supplemental 16% feed without regard to the rest of the possible protein sources, you are ----ing away your money. The idea is to get as close to what is needed in total diet, and little if any extra. It's my firmly held belief that many goats are overfed protien.

You don't mention what state you are in, so I can only offer generalized alternatives as protein sources. Whole cottonseed is cheaper than corn where I live, and at 27% protein delivers more. Cotton mill waste (stalks, leaves) here is free and is 13% protein...back the truck up and take all you want! Brewer's or distillers "wastes" are also cheaper. The liquified form is the cheapest, but dried they are also cheaper than the corn and wheat they came from. In some cases, high quality hay is cheaper per ton than corn and will deliver the protein needed (it used to always be cheaper before the dorughts of the past few years...now you have to pencil it out). Other potential soruces are rice hulls and wheat hulls.

Look arond you locally and see what can deliver your protein needs and be palatible for your herd at the cheapest price. For me this year, whole cottonseed direct from the gin loaded into 55-gallon barrels is the ticket, beating corn by $75/ton outright and almost half again as cheap when protein provided is calculated into the figures.

Also, look at how you feed. I limit-feed cottonseed. I feed once per day, as much as they can eat in 10 minutes. And that's it. The rest of the protein comes from pasture and medium quality hay.

I strive to get my goats byproducts, like the corn out of the garden or the brambles growing up in a bad area of my farm they can clean up for me, rather than to make foodstuffs available to them on a dedicated basis just for the goats.

Many small farmers don't look at things in this way, but it pays to provide your livestock with all they need and not a thing more than that, because of all the money you save from being wasted in less well-thought out operations. You really have to put pencil to paper (or fingers to calculator) to see if you are doing things cheaper. I have found in a lot of years of this that sometimes I am working like a dog thinking I am saving money that way, only to find out that I spent more than if I had just looked around and bought a cheaper alternative.

Soorry for th elong post. Hope it helps, maybe.

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  #5  
Old 01/23/07, 07:45 PM
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Yes, the corn stalks are great for feed - and you can dry them! Farmers used to collect the stalks and put them on the barn for feeding during winter.
Try to stay away from silage - this can lead to heath problems.
As for cost - I have found it CHEAPER to raise my own! If you plant 1, 2, 0r 3 acres, you can usually get seed free from local farmers or dealers - everyone has a torn bag or extra they don't need. I cut down my neighbor's sweet corn after he is done with it and let it dry for feed (some I feed green). Whole ears are stored in a "corn crib" and shelled as needed. I also have a Letz burr grinder to "crack" and mix the corn with anything else I want to add. Every year, I have also had local farmers give me wheat, milo, or corn (or all 3) that they have swept out of thier bins. Most farmers do not raise thier own feed anymore because in the shear numbers of livestock they have to feed! Equipment is not that hard to find. I have a 2 row JD planter I found for $7. My picker cost $75. I built a cultivator. a disc harrow is cheap, and can be modified to fit your tractor. Depending on where you are at - plows can be found in the $100-$200 range.
As for hay -
I opened 3 acres of native grass this past summer. I got two cutting from it - 75 the first and 97 the second. This year, my neighbor baled it for me, but I am gathering my own equipment to do it myself. Rakes, wagons and mowers are still cheap enough to make it worth it. You don't need fancy, new, or modern equipment to raise grains or hay. Remember - your grandfather didn't have those fancy things and he grew them!

It will be a learning curve, but you will get the hang of it quick!

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  #6  
Old 01/23/07, 07:54 PM
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Scrounger! where do you farm at! WHat state? a picker for $75 dollars. is that to pick corn? and 3 pt hitch? I look and read And I am looking for a picker for corn and soybeans now. I am in N/W Georgia.
OH the goats do love SUnflower stalks and corn the whole stalks !!

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  #7  
Old 01/23/07, 07:57 PM
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Location: Jones Co, Texas
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I cannot speak about corn, but my goats ate the native sunflowers from the flower on down until the stalk got thick and tough. I must say that they did not eat it first, though it did get eaten before they nipped the flowers off of the bull nettle!

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  #8  
Old 01/23/07, 08:31 PM
 
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Thanks! I'm really happy to hear this.
I was planning to plant corn just for the cobs to feed- so imagine the amount of feed off one acre here!
It's all by hand harvesting, using a scythe if it would take it, or one of those swedish brush saws that'd work well too.
Drying may be difficult and if it rains I'd be really screwed, but this would be easier than doing all hay by hand I would think.

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  #9  
Old 01/23/07, 08:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by red hott farmer
Scrounger! where do you farm at! WHat state? a picker for $75 dollars. is that to pick corn? and 3 pt hitch? I look and read And I am looking for a picker for corn and soybeans now. I am in N/W Georgia.
OH the goats do love SUnflower stalks and corn the whole stalks !!

I found it in a shed in Northern Missouri. It is a FarmRite brand (they made things for several companys - including Dearborn). It is is excellent shape and was built especially for an 8N, but would fit other tractors. It is a 3 point semi mounted corn picker. I am still hunting for a small pull-type combine, though! Milo is hard to pick without one! I have picked some with a corn knife and threw the whole head into my grinder. It worked great! Keep looking, you'll find what you need!
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  #10  
Old 01/23/07, 11:19 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Jones Co, Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mountaineer
Thanks! I'm really happy to hear this.
I was planning to plant corn just for the cobs to feed- so imagine the amount of feed off one acre here!
It's all by hand harvesting, using a scythe if it would take it, or one of those swedish brush saws that'd work well too.
Drying may be difficult and if it rains I'd be really screwed, but this would be easier than doing all hay by hand I would think.

I think I would try some and just leave the corn on the stalk to dry, and try letting the goats feed themselves a row or two at a time. Or, if you live in corn country, get an oldtimer to show you have to make a haystack out of corn stalks. If I were going to pick the corn and let it dry, I think I would string a few wires in a covered area like a barn or a carport. I'd not completely shuck the corn, and would use the husks to hang the corncobs to dry. Or pick up a copy of Gene Logsdon's book All Flesh is Grass, or a couple others for ideas on how to build a small grainary.
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  #11  
Old 01/23/07, 11:21 PM
 
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Actually I was thinking to just cut it and allow it to dry flat on the ground like hay. I do live in a sunny, hot, and often dry spot at harvest time though. Hay here doesn't generally need flipping actually.

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  #12  
Old 01/24/07, 01:54 PM
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Minnesota
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I feed corn stalk which has been chopped and baled, figured for 10-15$ per 500 pound bale I can't go wrong, last time I checked it was about 5% protein..I feed some and use the rest for bedding

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