Researchers at IowaStateUniversity conducted a cornstalk-grazing demonstration from December 2008 to January 2009, comparing continuous corn-residue grazing without distillers’ grains supplementation to strip-grazed cornstalks with distillers’ dry grain  supplementation. The treatment group, consisting of 30 spring-calving Angus-based cows, had access to about 10 acres of cornstalks each week for seven weeks. The DDG product, Dakota Gold Bran, was provided at 5-6 pounds per head per day from day 17 through day 49. The control group of 30 similar cows had access to about 60 acres of cornstalks without grain or co-product supplementation. Both the control and treatment groups received grass-legume hay for 12 of the 49 days due to ice conditions. The researchers evaluated body-condition scores at the beginning and end of the demonstration.

Key findings included:

  • The treatment group receiving the DDG supplementation in the strip-grazed system maintained their body-condition score of 5.7 even with three ice events that impacted feed availability for 12 of the 49 days. During this same period, the BCS of the control cows decreased from a beginning score of 5.7 to 5.4.
  • The DDG-supplemented system provided an economic advantage of $18.82 per head over the continuous-grazed control group. This differ­ence compares the DDG and hay supplementation costs of the treatment group to the control group’s actual hay and estimated DDG cost to in­crease the control cows’ BCS by 0.3 points.
  • Non-fenced corn fields can be successfully grazed by utilizing electric fences. Through this effort, cow-calf producers can more efficiently uti­lize their feed resources, reduce winter stored-feed costs and maintain cow body condition through a variety of weather conditions.

The IowaBeefCenter has developed a multi-page fact sheet on cornstalk grazing.