Why not?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Terri, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    OK, it's late and I cannot sleep. Time for a question that has always puzzled me.

    Cattle eat grass and corn is grass. So, why not sow a field of corn for grazing? You would think it would yield more than your standard pasture. You could turn them out when the corn was 2 feet high.

    Of course, the cattles feet would probably break the corn stalks. Strip grazing, perhaps? With a moveable hot wire?

    Silage does the same thing as grazing but takes machinery: turning the cattle into the field does not.

    For that matter, if you planted it in sweet corn, the cattle might find it downright tasty. I tasted the pith of a sweet corn stalk, once, and it was very sweet.

    Any thoughts on the matter? ;)
     
  2. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    I know that my sheep made short work of my corn crop last year when they escaped the fence. Oh well, at least they didn't go for the blueberry bushes!

    But corn doesn't have the right protean to roughage ratio for day in day out dining. Nor could you grow "enough" of it on a field... grass keeps coming as the sheep eat it down. Corn... if they ate the baby corn there wouldn't be anything else for the rest of the summer.
     

  3. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    it's done. have to run a hot wire and restrict the animals over a small portoin other wise they hog out the corn!!! also heavy snow and trample loss add up.often see cattle run on stalk fields to glean the uncaught corn and roughage
     
  4. NWSneaky

    NWSneaky Well-Known Member

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    Corn = energy, for winter and tough times. Cattle will die eating only corn. Cattle have amazingly delicate stomachs.
     
  5. AnnaS

    AnnaS Well-Known Member

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    Corn is picky- it needs to be planted at a certain depth, heavily fertilized, and kept clear of weeds. The small grains, like oats, rye, and buckwheat, all make good pasture when young and will grow well just scattered on the ground and buried with a drag. Small grains tolerate a wider range of soil fertility and will compete well with weeds. Rye makes its own weedkiller and buckwheat shades out other plants. Small grain seed is much cheaper than corn seed too.

    Your pasture thoughts are on the right track here, just the wrong grain!
     
  6. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It is done somewhat, but:

    Corn grain is more valuable as grain for winter energy than to let cattle graze it in _most_ cases. In short, you get more return harvesting the grain first.

    At 2 feet, corn is most danerous to cattle. They can get nitrate poisoning from the growth spurt at that time. Also the corn gorwing point has just emerged, so you will kill the corn plant. You only get 2 feet of somewhat dangerous feed, no grain, no regrowth.

    You can get the most cattle value from growing alfalfa, 3-4 cuttings a year. This will beat corn hands down. You can graze alfalfa if you are very careful about bloat. VERY careful.

    You can harvest the grain, fence the stalks & let the cattle graze the leaves. Much more efficient, you have the grain for winter, the cattle have late fall feed & will grab the dropped ears.

    Sweet corn yields less than regular field corn. You will get more sugars, but less fodder per acre. Not right for grazing cattle. Grazing sweet corn stalks afoter harvesting has it's own problems with making the cattle sick, as it's green & might freeze - bad combination.

    In general, a real grass crop will outyield a corn crop for grazing in 85% of the cases.

    There are many options of grazing the left over stalks, and most farmers with cattle around me are baling up the corn stalks and using them for feed (balanced with some grain, hay, & alfalfa) so you are thinking along the right lines, but straight out grazing corn fields does not work well.

    You need to wait until the grain is there, then the corn is so tall you can't run strip wires, but the cattle will over-eat on a whole field and (best case) get the runs, as well as trample the corn down & waste more than they eat.

    Many different options with corn tho, harvest it & either graze or bale the stalks after.

    Cattle do best with a variaty of feeds to balance their needs.

    --->Paul
     
  7. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    Years ago we would turn Cattle and Hogs out in Corn,still gave them Hay.


    big rockpile
     
  8. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Thanks!

    Alas, I HAVE no cattle, I was simply wondering why what looked like 5' tall grass was not used more extensively for grazing.

    And daydreaming, of course! We won't live on our 5 acres for a while, but a person cannot help but dream! :haha:
     
  9. george darby

    george darby Well-Known Member

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    i have stripp grazed corn for about 7 years much easyer than cutting silage andthen hauling it out again . corn can produce more tonage to the acer than most other crops its a good utilization of rich tillable land cattle will gain wheight fast and when the corn is still green will leave only a short stub of stalk you need a good hot wire and after they are used to being turned in each day will wait and bawl for you to open the gate they dont always go for the ears but often stripp the leaves first,i plant a little thicker than usuall to keep the ears smaller and to help supress weeds, the corn is ready to graze in august/sept when the dry warm weater usualy has supressed grown in the cool season pasture grasses
     
  10. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Here is what I do:

    I plant oats. along with it, I plant a plowdown blend (alfalfa/clover/sweetclover) and turnips. The oats plants through the grain drill, and all the other seeds are about the same size & plant through the small seeder attachment.

    In August I swath & combine the oats for grain. I bale the straw. End of August, if I get a rain in there, I have a field with regrowing oats (light seeds that blew over the combine), turnip tops with large bulbs, and the clover/alfalfa, all about a foot high.

    Put up a wire & let the cattle eat. They get a good mix of grass & protiens from this. It comes in about the time the pasture grasses are going dormant from the dry heat.

    Take the cattle out in a month when they have it eaten up, and the clover/alfalfa comes back a bit.

    This gives me:

    Grain.
    Straw.
    Beef.
    Fertilizer from the cattle.
    Fertilizer N from the legumes.
    Less erosion from the solid seedings.
    A break from regular corn/soybeans for weeds & pests.
    A place to spread manure in early fall.

    I do pretty good on this relatively small area of my corn/soybean farm. It sure woul beat grazing corn - less fertilizer needed, more harvests (income), and no weed control needed.

    Cutting the oats for hay, or grazing it earlier when in boot stage is also a possibility, but I need the grain & straw for winter use.

    --->Paul