The winter feeding season accounts for 40% to 60% of total production costs. So it makes sense to experiment with different feeding strategies that could help reduce costs – one of these being extending the grazing season. These systems have been shown to reduce costs/cow/day by decreasing equipment usage, reducing feed handling and reducing manure hauling costs as the nutrients left behind are deposited directly in the field.
Extensive systems include stockpiled forages, swath grazing, bale grazing and, more recently, grazing standing corn.
Alberta Ranchers Winter Grazing Cattle
This series of 47 videos shares the personal perspectives and practices of ranchers across Alberta and how they have implemented management practices to reduce risk in winter grazing systems.
Grazing Standing Corn
Utilizing corn as a grazing system has been gaining popularity in Northeastern Alberta and the highly nutritious cobs provide an excellent feed source for beef cows. As the number of acres seeded to corn increases, attention is being paid to the agronomics of growing corn for winter grazing. Although soil temperature, seeding date, fertility and seeding depth will impact emergence and establishment, corn significantly lacks competitiveness with weeds and itself.
Bale Grazing Wastage Estimation
Bale grazing has become an increasingly utilized system of extending the grazing season and, along with reducing costs, provides nutrient in the field through manure and urine. Previous research has shown that forage production in an old hayfield can be as much as five times higher the summer following bale grazing than on the same field where bale grazing was not practiced.