Feeding Cattle In A High Dollar Corn Market

The year 2020 has come and gone, and it has been a year unlike any other. The ups and downs in the cattle market have taken their toll on farmers and ranchers at one point or another.

No one expected corn to reach $5 per bushel, but here we are. If you’re selling corn this year, the corn board could currently look like a gift. But if you’re one of the many farmers and ranchers trying to grow cattle on corn, this market can look especially grim.

It has caused us to really sit down and evaluate our feeding programs. Why do we feed corn? What are the advantages? What are the disadvantages? Are there other alternatives we can use in a market such as this?


  • High energy & digestibility: Corn is highly digestible in the rumen and is energy-dense, which allows cattle to lay down condition fairly quickly.
  • Marbling: Calves fed moderate levels of grain early in life begin laying down intramuscular fat, also known as marbling.
  • Palatability: Corn is extremely palatable to cattle of all ages.


  • Starch levels: Corn is high starch, which negatively affects forage digestion.
  • Low protein content: Protein sources are often required to accompany corn due to inadequate protein levels.
  • Further processing: More often than not, corn will need to be further processed, which adds extra costs. Processing such as rolling, grinding, or steam flaking, does not usually result in greater average daily gain but it can improve feed efficiency.

Corn Alternatives

There are a variety of non-corn grain energy options available on the market. Some of these are lower in starch, with similar energy values, such as distillers and beet pulp. These feed alternatives can be very palatable and can be much more cost-efficient in times like these today. One of the most important factors to consider when selecting an alternative feed is its efficiency. If cattle aren’t efficient on it, it can cost you more than you think. In addition to grain alternatives, feed additives can give an additional boost to digestibility and efficiency.

AgriGro’s Got Your Back

AgriGro is invested in your long term profitability. And for that, efficiency is key. Nutri-Zyme® is a feed and water additive that improves gut health and intake, which leads to better gain and overall improved health. With all of these factors in place, improved efficiency is inevitable. Learn more about AgriGro and Nutri-Zyme® today.

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Vitamin & Mineral Supplementation in Cattle

Vitamins and minerals are nutrients required in order to perform vital bodily functions. Examples of such functions include…

  • Muscle development
  • Reproduction
  • Lactation

…and pretty much every other function of the living body.

Requirements vary based on the age and stage of production your cattle are in. Some requirements can be met through their diet without additional supplementation, whereas others need to be provided in order to meet requirements. It is just as important to not excessively exceed requirements as it is important to meet them, as interactions among minerals can occur and thereby decrease the effectiveness.

Common minerals requiring supplementation include phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iodine, selenium, zinc, vitamin A, and vitamin E.


Phosphorus is essential for sexual maturity and expressing heat. It is required by ruminal microbes for efficient digestion. Lameness is often observed when phosphorus is deficient.


Calcium is vital for bone development and growth, milk production, and muscle function. If cows are not provided enough dietary calcium prior to calving, a fatal condition commonly known as milk fever can occur, in which calcium requirements for lactation exceed that of calcium available in the body.

Generally, the desired calcium: phosphorus ratio is 2:1 and is important to keep balanced in ruminant diets.


Muscles require magnesium in order to contract and relax. Lush grass is often low in magnesium, which leads to a condition known as grass tetany, and is caused by a magnesium deficiency. Grass tetany causes muscle convulsions and death if not treated immediately.


Iodine aids in immunity and thyroid function. Thyroid hormones are used in the digestion, metabolization, and use of energy. Iodine requirements are usually met by feeding iodized salt, which can be found in most range minerals or easily provided through salt blocks.


Energy, proper growth and development, and reproduction are each directly impacted by selenium concentrations. Cows with selenium deficiencies are often seen with retained placentas and poor breed back. Additionally, scours and weakness are symptoms of selenium deficiencies in calves.

Selenium is quite toxic at high levels, and therefore, a maximum inclusion rate is monitored and regulated by the FDA.


Zinc is important for reproductive development and function, as well as protein synthesis. This mineral also contributes largely to hair, skin, and hoof growth/ hardiness, as well as immune function.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is vital in eyesight and epithelial cell development, which are the cells that makeup skin and other tissues. Additionally, it aids in immunity, reproduction, and growth.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is important for immunity, nerve function, and muscle development. In cases in which vitamin E is deficient, calves can have a stiff gate due to degrading muscles in the legs. Exact requirements in cattle are still unknown, however, when levels are found to be too low, the effects are detrimental.

How can you maximize your vitamin and mineral supplementation? 

AgriGro’s all-natural NutriZyme® is a feed and water additive that contains vitamins and minerals to boost gut health for maximum efficiency. NutriZyme® enhances the breakdown of your supplements and forages, providing even more nutrients to your herd. Contact a rep to find out even more about how AgriGro® can help your herd


Grazing Corn Stalks

Winter has struck here in the U.S. and winter feeding programs are underway. With harvest behind us, many cornfields sit untouched, with cornstalk residue left behind. When fed properly, this residue can be a great feed resource. 

Corn stalks are a low-cost and resourceful way to provide fiber, roughage, and energy to cows throughout the winter. Since cows are selective grazers, they will start first by consuming any leaves or husks remaining. Additionally, cattle will gravitate towards any grain left behind, as it tastes the best. Usually, very little grain can be found in the field after harvest, but if winds were high during harvest, higher concentrations of grain could be on the ground. While this usually isn’t an issue, it is good practice to evaluate what is left behind prior to turning cows out to make sure there isn’t enough remaining to cause bloat. Next, they will move on to the less palatable and less nutritive portions- the cobs and stalks. 

Cattle can consume stalks covered in up to 6-inches of snow but are unable to break through if covered in ice. In situations such as this, cattle will need to be provided with hay to meet their nutritional demands. Additionally, stocking rates will determine how much supplementation may or may not be required.

Depending on the stage of production, the majority of energy requirements can be met through grazing corn stalks. Protein, however, is about 5.0-6.0% on average, so additional protein supplementation may be needed to meet requirements and enhance forage digestion

Feeding a feed source you’ve already invested in, such as grazing stalks, is a very cost-efficient way of providing feed. The more nutrients cattle are able to take in with what you already have, the better off your pocketbook will be. 

This concept was a key factor in the development of AgriGro’s product, NutriZyme®. NutriZyme® is a water and/or feed additive that helps boost digestion to maximize nutrient uptake. This additive positively affects ruminal microbial selection to enhance health, digestion, and subsequently performance in your animals. Place your AgriGro order today and give it a try!


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Flashback Friday – What Livestock Already Instinctively Know

Check this out! Shannon Smith shares footage of fescue hay grown with AgriGro Prebiotics all the way back to 1996!


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At AgriGro we make it a habit to deliver excellence and we have the track record to back it up.

Dating back to the early 1990’s, AgriGro has been on a strict regimen of testing and retesting our various product lines to insure consistent performance in the field along with profitability for the farmer. We have spent a tremendous amount of time, effort, and expense to verify and prove the excellent value and efficacy of our agricultural products, even on our own farm.

See the difference for yourself that the animals already instinctively know.


My name is Shannon Smith, this is a video that was shot in Feb. of 1996. It’s Bermuda grass hay raised in Arkansas under center pivot fertilized according to Arkansas University recommendations verses Fescue hay raised on Living Waters Ranch with the AgriGro program. 

We are going to see these bales fed side by side. The first bale that’s rolled out is a Bermuda grass bale.  It’s rolled out to a herd of about 90 cows. It was the last bale that we had, that’s why we filmed this when we did. The second bale that will be rolled out is Living Waters Ranch Fescue hay and you will see eventually all 90 of these cows will leave the Bermuda grass hay and go over to the Fescue hay. 

The Bermuda grass hay was horse quality hay sold mostly to horse people themselves, it’s very, very good hay, however it was not in comparison to our Fescue hay raised on our program. 

Again, I would tell you to note the condition of the cows as you look at them.  This was filmed February 14th, 1996 – the dead of winter. You can tell by looking there is no grass to speak of at all. The cattle are extremely fleshy and healthy and they look more like they are in the dead of summer than they do in the dead of winter. Again they are very, very healthy. Note each cow leaving the Bermuda going over to the Fescue. 

The protein consumption would drop dramatically when we were feeding our Fescue hay.  They would consume about a quarter of a pound a day on our Fescue hay. When we would feed the Bermuda hay alone they would jump their protein consumption to a pound and a half to two pounds. Which is indicative of the quality of hay itself. 

The Bermuda was very, very good hay. Again, the cows would walk across and try the Bermuda, but then walk back to the fescue. 

The next morning, you could see where the Bermuda grass hay was fed.  You could tell where all 100 of those bales were fed. Where we fed our Fescue hay you could tell they lick it off the ground. The only way you could tell where that bale of hay was fed was where the manure was left behind.


1996 Hay Comparison:


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