With fall and winter right around the corner, farmers and ranchers might be looking at their hay supply and crossing their fingers hoping it lasts. With the drought in some areas, hay shortages and high prices - every forage will be stretched to the max on your farm, including corn stalks.
Most cattlemen only use corn stalks for bedding because they don’t feed well. Cattle will sort corn stalk bales for leaves and husks and waste the stalks. To help minimize waste and use low-cost corn stalks for feed, here are 5 tips to put up high-quality bales your cows will actually eat.
5 Tips for High-Quality Corn Stalk Bales:
Use a flail stalk chopper or grind bales before feeding to make smaller pieces that cattle won’t sort out when bales are fed.
Avoid raking windrows together in the early morning or late evening when dew is present. Excess moisture will lead to more spoilage and less palatability.
Don’t rake more than you can bale. Once a windrow gets wet it is hard to dry down.
Stack corn stalk bales in a space protected from the elements such as a hay shed. Corn stalk bales are porous and don’t shed moisture like hay bales.
If stacking bales outside, place bales in a single row on a gentle slope. Preferably facing north and south to provide equal sunlight for drying. If stacking bales in a pyramid, use a tarp to protect from precipitation.
How One Central Minnesota Farmer Feeds Corn Stalks
Farmers and ranchers in central Minnesota were hit hard by drought in 2021. But a farmer from Gonvick found success feeding high moisture corn stalk bales to his cows in early August using Anchor™ for Hay.
“Typically, our corn stalk bales are just for winter bedding and don’t look good enough to feed. These bales looked good enough even after carrying them over from last fall. We treated them with Anchor at 30% moisture without much faith that it would work.
Due to this year’s drought, the pasture grass ran out in August, so we started supplementing with corn stalks. We put them into a total mixed ration (TMR) mixer with some dried distiller grains (DDGs) and fed them in the pasture so our cows would have something to eat. I was shocked when 80% of the corn stalks were cleaned up! The cows are looking great, and we can keep our limited hay supply for the winter months.”
How to Reduce Moisture & Spoilage in Corn Stalk Bales
High moisture corn stalks can be a challenge to dry down and often results in spoiled bales that don’t break apart well and are difficult to work with. Anchor can help.
Anchor is a dry granular product that helps preserve higher moisture corn stalks by reducing heating and spoilage. This results in:
Easy to grind and pull apart bales
Bales with less sagging
Higher quality feed and bedding
A pleasing “brown sugar” smell for improved palatability