A Growing Opportunity for Alberta Cattle Producers
With more and more varieties designed to thrive in our Alberta climate, producing an exceptional source of good biomass, corn is becoming the crop of opportunity for cattle producers when it comes to fall and winter grazing.
"Certainly corn is a system that is relatively new and novel to Western Canada," says Dr. Bart Lardner, professor, Western Beef Development Centre (WBDC), Dept. Animal & Poultry Science, University of Saskatchewan. "Looking at grazing systems as a whole for all of the options that producers have for extending the grazing season, corn is really becoming more and more of an option for a lot of producers. Even in years of below average rainfall or drought, like these last couple of years, corn will produce really good biomass and help stretch out those grazing days throughout the fall and into the winter months."
According to Lardner, there are several reasons why corn is attractive:
- The varieties that are produced today are designed to produce good biomass, no matter where you are in Western Canada.
- Per acre, corn can produce 2.5 to 3 times the biomass compared to small grain cereals.
However, Lardner does caution producers to be careful and diligent when it comes to growing the crop, as well as grazing it.
"Our costs at the WBDC are running about $250 to $280 input per acre, so you want to make sure that you are utilizing 90 per cent of the biomass or greater and leaving minimum residue to maximize your returns."