State Demonstrates How Farmers Can Work Together to Survive Drought

An important part of the diet for beef cattle is forage. Cattle and corn farmer Jon Holzfaster - a member of the Nebraska Corn Board - says beef cattle achieve 70-percent of their growth on forage. But the drought has taken a significant toll on grazing land and hay supplies.

As an example - 98-percent of Nebraska's pasture and rangeland is rated in poor to very poor condition. As a result - prices for forage are higher. Holzfaster says this presents opportunities for corn farmers and cattle producers to work together to graze cattle on cornstalk residue left in the field after harvest or to take advantage of baled cornstalk residue.

Nebraska Cattlemen President Jim Ramm says cornstalks give cattle producers some much needed fall grazing or supplemental baled forage to stretch supplies. When managed properly - he says cornstalk residue can be a good feed. Since saving existing stored feedstuffs and hay supplies for winter feed is important for making it through a drought - Ramm says his group is encouraging cattle producers to consider cornstalk grazing.

But Extension Beef Specialists with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln stress that care must be taken in grazing drought stressed cornstalks due to the potential of high nitrates in the feed.

Beef experts at the University of Nebraska have compiled a drought resource webpage for beef producers at beef dot unl dot edu (http://beef.unl.edu). There's a Drought link on the left-hand side of the page. Another resource has been created by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

A Hay and Forage Hotline can assist farmers and ranchers in finding hay and forage products. The Department is encouraging farmers with available cornstalks to work cooperatively with livestock producers to ensure access to as much quality forage as possible this fall and winter. The hotline is available at www dot agr dot ne dot gov (www.agr.ne.gov).

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