Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) on increasing the inclusion rate of ground corn stalks in cattle rations is showing promise.
“What we’ve done around five or six times now at the university’s feedlot is we’ve compared feeding five percent corn stalks, which would be conventional, to 20 percent treated corn stalks—and getting the same performance,” says UNL extension beef feedlot specialist Galen Erickson.
“So basically you’re able to offset 15 percent of your corn needs in a feedlot, which is quite economical.”
Researchers are using alkaline treatments to make the stalks more digestible for cattle.
“We’re estimating, assuming corn stalks are 55 to 60 dollars per ton—and when you treat it, you do increase the cost and there is a hassle factor—but we’re estimating you generally can make 20 to 30 dollars more per finished animal, and also lower the breakeven,” Erickson says.
Erickson says one of the big differences between past research on corn stalk inclusion, and current efforts, is the availability of distillers grains.
“It’s probably one of the reasons we can feed 20 percent treated stalks compared to five percent untreated stalks, and get the same performance,” he says. “So we believe that having 30 to 40 percent of the diet dry matter as distillers grains is a key.”
UNL’s corn stalk research will be one of the topics discussed at a June 20th cattle nutrition meeting for consultants and producers at the UNL ag research center near Mead.