Forage options in tough drought conditions

As the majority of the United States continues to experience abnormally dry weather conditions, it is estimated that 1/3 of the total US corn crop is under some form of drought stress (see map). Reportedly, many farmers are expecting their corn yields to be cut in half. Facing a shortage, they are looking for alternative forage sources to feed their cattle this year. Yesterday afternoon, Mike Hutjens hosted a special drought-focused Hoards Webinar to address this timely issue.
The four sources he discussed were drought-stress corn silage, drought-stress soybeans, fall small grain annuals, and winter small grain annuals. All of these have the potential to add valuable nutrients to a herd’s diet, but each of them also comes with its own set of concerns. 
To help producers select the “right” forage(s) for their herds, Hutjens provided these key factors to consider:
  1. Potential for herbicide carryover
  2. Seed availability
  3. Soil moisture
  4. Possibility of early freeze
  5. Economics of each forage
  6. Palatability
  7. Nutrient values  – crude protein, NDF, lignin, etc.
Watch Hutjens’ webinar entitled “Sorting through your forage options” for detailed information on each of the four forage sources. The webinar will be available for viewing at later this week.
Source: “Sorting through your forage options” Hoard’s Webinar presented by Dr. Mike Hutjens, University of Illinois, on August 27, 2012.



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