Feed Lot

AUG 2018

Feedlots and cow/calf operations in the beef industry who feed 500 or more has annually on grains and concentrates; maintain 500 or more beef cows; backgrounder, stocker/grower, preconditioner; veterinarian, nutritionist, consultant

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6 FEED•LOT August 2018 corn grain, and call a veterinarian immediately. Green chop may be a potential alternative for feeding some drought stressed corn, but one should do so with care. Feeding as corn silage This method is the most widely preferred as the ensiling process reduces nitrate levels by as much as 1/2 to 1/3 as the gas escapes as nitrous oxide compounds from the pile. Moisture LEVEL is key as excess can lead to poor fermenta- tion or reduced feed value. Proper moisture is 65% with a range of 62-68% moisture. Delay harvest as long as there is some green in leaf and stalk tissue. Proper ensiling technique is key to success. Be- low are a few articles on properly ensiling corn silage. Keys to suc- cessful ensiling and feedout can be found in the BeefWatch article "Silage Considerations" (https:// go.unl.edu/ 7 jit). It is also a good idea to test the silage before using in a ration for moisture, crude protein, TDN and Nitrate content to allow for proper formulation in a ration. Tips for obtaining a good sample are provided in the Neb- Guide http://extensionpublications. unl.edu/assets/html/g331/build/ The game of "what-if" can be tricky. What if the corn crop be- comes drought damaged this year? Am I prepared to utilize this forage? Drought-stressed corn will start to wilt and roll its leaves. If drought occurs for four days during the silking and pollination period— the early reproductive stages of the corn plant—as much as 40-50% drop in yield can occur. Cattle pro- ducers looking to make use of the drought-stressed corn may harvest it for forage but it should be done with a few considerations. Chemical labels If harvesting corn as forage or grazing directly, check the chemical and pesticide labels applied to crops to ensure that the crop is cleared for forage and minimum pre-harvest interval (PHI) has been met. Nitrate poisoning potential Drought conditions can prevent normal plant growth, thereby high- er levels of nitrates can accumulate in the corn stalk. Livestock do convert nitrate to other nitrogen compounds in the rumen, but it is the amount consumed and time it took to consume the forage that be- comes the issue. Feedstuffs testing high in nitrates can be used as part of the ration if they are diluted with lower nitrate feeds. Talk with an extension educator or nutritionist about what could be blended and what ration could be balanced. When harvesting drought-stressed corn as forage, options include: Feeding green Green chop is chopping corn and feeding it fresh instead of first letting it go through an ensiling process. Nitrates accumulate in the lower 8 - 12 inches of the standing cornstalk in drought challenged corn. Setting the cutter bar higher and chopping the corn for green chop may lower the amount of nitrate fed. If feeding green chop, feed immediately after harvest and only feed the amount that the animals will consume in two hours. If green chop is left in the bunk or on the wagon, it can heat up and nitrate will be converted to nitrite. Nitrite is TEN TIMES as toxic as nitrate when fed to animals. Therefore, it is better to feed green chop 2-3 times a day to ensure that it is cleaned up quickly and not left sitting. If nitrate poi- soning is suspected, remove the contaminated feed from the diet, provide a high energy feed such as FEEDLOT FOCUS BY KRISTEN ULMER, NEBRASKA EXTENSION EDUCATOR AND MARY DREWNOSKI, UNL BEEF SYSTEMS SPECIALIST

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