With more corn varieties becoming available, cattle producers are looking at grazing whole plant corn as a viable winter feeding option.

Dr. Bart Lardner from the Western Beef Development Centre explains why some producers adopt corn grazing.

"It really is a crop that grows two and a half/three times the biomass that our small-grain cereals do on less land. And another attraction may be this is the crop that actually exceeds an inter-requirements of a beef cow for first, second trimester of pregnancy. Some cases in their cold winter months, there may be a need to add additional energy supplementation."

There are several benefits to grazing corn, but cattle producers should be cautious of ruminal acidosis, or grain overload.

"Cattle are very selective, and they'll pick out the tastier parts of the plant - hence the cobb, which has a lot of starch," said Lardner. "If cows are allowed to go out there and access and utilize just cobbs, there's going to be a ruminal acidosis issue. So we're always trying to say maybe that crop at first killing frost would be at that half maybe milk line. So we get a balance of starch and fibre per acre, and so about 50 per cent starch and 50 per cent fibre. The fibres from the leaves, the stalk, just over the tassle, the starch is coming from the crop itself."

A free webinar on corn grazing management will take place October 12th, to register for the event visit the BCRC’s website, www.beefresearch.ca.