Corn and corn byproducts available for drought-impacted livestock producers

North Dakota corn and corn byproducts can help livestock producers suffering from one of the worst droughts in the state’s history address widespread feed shortages resulting from high temperatures and a lack of precipitation this growing season.

Donated and low-cost corn and corn stover

The North Dakota Corn Growers Association (NDCGA) and North Dakota Corn Utilization Council (NDCUC) are challenging corn producers to donate or provide low-cost corn grazing or corn stover bales to the state’s cattle ranchers in search of feed.

“Mother Nature has dealt North Dakota cattle ranchers a difficult hand this year,” said NDCGA President Carson Klosterman of Wyndmere, N.D. “Our members are committed to helping them turn their situation around by providing some of the high-quality feedstuffs available in cornfields across North Dakota.”

Corn residue is a useful feedstuff for beef cattle and, when rations are balanced appropriately, can help cattle ranchers satisfy their forage needs, especially in a drought situation.

NDCGA and NDCUC board members have already committed hundreds of acres and many tons of corn stover for this effort, and the groups expect those numbers to grow once others hear about this opportunity to help.

The groups are encouraging their growers to list their corn acre or stover availability on either of the feed clearinghouse resources available to help North Dakota producers – the North Dakota State University FeedList (available at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/info/fl_new) or the North Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Interactive Drought Hotline (available at http://ndda.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=d9266e1cc231463399c585d7f0a39893 or by calling (701) 425-8454).

“When your crop fails as a corn farmer, you just have to move on and hope next year’s crop turns out better. For our fellow ranchers who have no feed and have to sell off their herds, this drought is a whole different situation,” said Scott German, NDCUC chairman and Oakes, N.D., farmer. “We are facing the drought together and we will find solutions together; that’s what we do in agriculture.”

The NDCUC has funded several livestock feed research projects by North Dakota State University (NDSU) researchers showing value in the use of corn and corn byproducts, such as dried distillers grains and stover. Recently, the NDCUC funded drought resource materials used by NDSU and other agencies to support drought and feed efforts.

“We are grateful to the corn growers who are being so generous to ranchers in need,” said NDSA President Warren Zenker, a Gackle, N.D., cow-calf producer and cattle feeder. “The groups have been partners many times over the years, and we appreciate this latest pledge to help feed our herds.”

Distillers grains

Wet and dried distillers grains are versatile feeds – palatable, digestible and nutritious – and can be other viable options for cattle ranchers to supplement low-quality forage in the drought, according to the North Dakota Ethanol Council (NDEC). The five ethanol plants across the state produce more than 1.4 million tons of the high-quality livestock feed each year, with more than 90 percent exported out of state in a typical year.

“A little added protein to the diet improves digestibility of low-quality forages, so diets including crop residues, mature grass or other lower quality forages will benefit from adding distillers grain,” said Dr. Vern Anderson, retired NDSU animal scientist and adjunct professor at the Carrington Research Extension Center.  Producers are encouraged to consult with their nutritionist, as there are a variety of ways to use distillers grain within rations based on the needs of the individual herd. More information on feeding distillers grain can be found at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/livestock/feeding-coproducts-of-the-ethanol-industry-to-beef-cattle.

“The drought situation throughout the state is very unfortunate,” said Jeff Zueger, NDEC chairman. “While both wet and dry corn distillers grains may be available, cattle producers may want to contract early to guarantee price and availability. In a year where the nutrient value in forage may be lacking, distillers grain can provide energy and protein in many different types of rations.” While the five plants are located statewide, they have varying availability and contracting options. Visit https://www.ndethanol.org/nd-plants for locations and contact information.

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Considerations for Corn and Livestock Producers

Livestock Producers

Corn Producers

· Need for feedstuffs.

· Access to additional feed sources.

· Cost of transporting livestock to access corn fields for grazing.

· Cost of baling and transporting stover.

· Feeding and supplement using stover.

· Allow access to graze or stover corn acres.

· Does soil type and corn growth allow removal of stover.

· Nutrient loss when removing stover.

· If allowing grazing, what is water and fencing options.

· Timely removal of stover bales.