Alternative Feeds Extends Limited Supplies

W. L. Shockey
Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Community Development
WVU Extension Service, Preston County
  1. Corn Stalks that are clean and well cured can be baled and fed with proper supplementation. They are low in protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals and high in fiber.
  2. Straw, like corn stalks, is low in protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals. It can be used to extend your forage supply when maintaining pregnant livestock or other animals that are not in a high state of production.
  3. Winter wheat, rye, and triticale can provide additional forage in late fall and early spring, especially in warmer regions of the state. They possibly may provide silage for next summer.
  4. Sudangrass and sorghum-sudangrass hybrids can be used to supplement pastures or stored as silage. These crops are usually difficult to dry for good-quality hay preservation because they have very coarse stems.
  5. Pearl millet is a warm-season grass that can be used to obtain an emergency forage crop in midsummer. It has been shown to substitute well for corn silage in the diet of lactating dairy cows.
  6. Soybeans also can be used as an alternative forage. Soybeans probably are best preserved as wilted silage. Direct-cut silage is too wet to produce a good fermentation, and hay can cause excessive leaf loss.
  7. By-product feeds include brewers grains, corn gluten feed, wheat bran, soybean hulls, whole cottonseed, cottonseed hulls, beat pulp, wheat middlings, sunflower meal, and many others. Typically, they are higher in fiber and lower in starch than grains and oilseeds.

Successful feeding of roughage extender and by-product feeds depends on proper ration balancing. Do not attempt to incorporate by-products or other alternative forage sources until you obtain a nutrient analysis from an analytical laboratory. After obtaining a nutrient analysis, use proper ration balancing techniques to incorporate these feedstuffs into the ration.

If you decide to use by-products, don't wait until your home-grown forage sources are exhausted before incorporating them into your rations. They should be fed as a roughage extender, not a total roughage replacement. Sources of analytical laboratories and ration balancing expertise can be obtained from your county Extension office.

Following is a table of some common by-products and recommended maximum feeding rates.

Feed Maximum lb/head/day
Beet pulp 5
Brewers grain, wet 40
Whole cottonseed 7
Corn, ear 35
Corn gluten feed, dry 15
Oat hulls 5
Soyhulls 10
Wheat bran 8
Wheat midds 8
Alfalfa pellets 10
Corn gluten meal 4
Sunflower meal 5

Programs and activities offered by the West Virginia University Extension Service are available to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, veteran status, political beliefs, sexual orientation, national origin, and marital or family status. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Director, Cooperative Extension Service, West Virginia University.