If livestock need extra forage, grazing wheat and taking animals off before the joint stage should be considered.
When you remove livestock from wheat before the joint stage, wheat can still be used for a grain crop. Grazed wheat will usually mature one to four days later than ungrazed wheat. But, studies show that lodging is reduced by grazing wheat.
Wheat can provide excellent quality to meet grazing animal requirements. Wheat produces more leaves and tillers than needed for maximum grain production, making grazing possible. In the vegetative stage, wheat is high in minerals and vitamins, crude protein content can be 20 to 30 percent, and TDN- 80 percent.
When grazing wheat, nitrogen should be split-applied, with half applied at planting and the remainder in late winter or early spring prior to grazing.
Grazing can begin when pastures are 4 to 10 inches tall. Due to the high quality of wheat, time grazing can be used, allowing animals to graze for only a short period. For example, graze wheat four hours per day, then turn animals on to a perennial grass pasture for water and mineral to reduce trampling and damage to plants and to improve the use. Avoid grazing during wet weather and extremely cold weather, (< 15 F) as this can damage plants.
Do not turn hungry animals onto cereal grain pastures, high protein in wheat can cause bloat. If producers are worried about grass tetany, supplement with magnesium and calcium mineral. Supplementing with dry hay can help meet dry matter intake needs as well.
Normally, one acre of cornstalks will feed a cow for 30 days. If conditions are wet and rainy, at least two to three acres will be needed due to faster degradation and more trampling of the residue. Strip grazing will limit trampling if the supply of available cornstalks is low.
Source: Jill Scheidt, agronomy specialist, University of Missouri Extension. (417) 682-3579
Artwork: Brown and White Dairy Cattle Grazing in Wheat Fields
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