Grazing Cover Crops for Winter Feed 2014

Published Nov 1, 2014

Feeding cows during the winter is often expensive, requiring investment in stored feeds like hay and extra labor from the producer. In addition to the numerous benefits of cover crops for row crop farmers, livestock can graze the forage, providing a high-quality and low-cost feed during times of low feed supplies. Dave and Meg Schmidt planted cover crops and grazed crop residues to reduce expenses and keep their animals out on pasture. Over three winter seasons, they have maintained animal performance and are starting to see reduced winter feed costs.

Key Findings

  • Planting cover crops and utilizing crop residue in the late fall has delayed the onset of regular hay feeding.
  • Calf average daily gain over the winter has improved over the years, implying better nutrition, management, and genetics.
  • Feeding hay can be successfully offset by cover crops and crop residues.