Corn stalks can help extend your forage supplies and reduce ration cost, but you must use caution not to overfeed them to lactating cows, says Frank Wardynski, ruminant educator with Michigan State University Extension. Here are some recommendations:

• Feed sparingly. Corn stalks are high in fiber, which can slow passage rates and reduce dry matter intake.

• Check feed inventories. Corn stalks have nutrient content similar to straw. If you have already inventoried straw for your rations, you may not want to add corn stalks.

• Sample and test. This is critical for proper ration formulation because the range in nutrient content of corn stalks can be quite variable, depending on the percentage of stalk, leaf, husk, cob and grain.

• Monitor body condition. Use routine body condition scoring to determine if inclusion rates are too high. If cows have less-than-optimal fat reserves for their particular stage of lactation, re-evaluate the ration and reduce corn stalk inclusion rates.

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