The beauty of
Amaizing Graze is the tremendous
flexibility it allows you during the hot summer months when cool
season grasses are dormant.
Depending on your needs, Amaizing
be stockpiled for the summer slump, stockpiled for winter to offset hay feeding,
or provide 150+ grazing days through
multiple grazings. The most common method of use is for summer grazing,
and is the way we utilize Amaizing Graze here.
This page will outline our experiences with Amaizing Graze to hopefully help other producers jump some of the hurdles in an intensive grazing program like this.
What, when and how much to plant:
- Amaizing Graze hybrids planted at three week intervals beginning early May in the following order; 100+, 112+, and Southern. This was done to provide a relatively consistent nutrition level, via corn maturity, over the grazing period (July thru September). Moving the planting date back into April will help insure against poor emergence during excessively dry years.
- To determine how much Amaizing Graze you need to plant use the following formula:
# cattle x Avg. Wt. x % feeding rate (3%) = Total DM day / % grazing efficiency (75%) = DM per day / DM per acre = Acres per day needed x grazing days = Planted acres
Planting and fertility:
NOTE: The following comes from experience here. What works on our farm may not necessarily produce the same results on yours. Consult your local extension agent/ crop consultant for best agronomic practices.
- No-till drill into both cool season pasture or winter annuals grazed to 4" or less. Cutting hay just before planting will work too, but you lose out on the extra manure left from grazing. Within three days of planting apply 90 units of 32-0-0 with labeled rate of Gramoxone. You only need enough nitrogen to feed the corn through the vegetative stages: Remember your goal isn't to make 200 bu corn!
- By combining the herbicide and 32%, you will burndown the standing vegetation and apply your N at the same time. The addition of Gramoxone or half rates of Glyphosate will be enough to burn the pasture long enough for the Amaizing Graze to get established without killing the pasture.
- Use full rates of both Glyphosate + Atrazine for longer burndown periods and elimination of existing vegetation. Apply liquid, up to 120 units, post-emergence works well too without crop damage.
- 15" rows @ 16 lbs/a (23000 seeds/a population). At this rate one bag will cover 3.5 acres. Your soil types and organic matter will vary so adjust seeding rates accordingly.
- An alternative we like to broadcast spraying N is to plant the corn on 15" rows and then side-dress our N on 30" centers pre-emergence. This also saves us money on N. Using our GPS makes this process easier.
- Use of an insecticide to help control wireworms and seed maggots is highly recommended if you plan to no-till into existing pasture. This is cheap insurance.
- Glyphosate may be needed in place of Gramoxone to kill ryegrass stands enough for good seedling corn emergence. Don't cut corners here because topdressing ryegrass stands with N during the spring flush is like pouring gasoline on a fire.
- No need to waste money on post-emergence herbicides because your cattle will eat the Johnsongrass just as well as the corn. One exception could be 2-4D. This is cheap and can do a good job on seedling broadleaves if a problem. (Will not kill ladino clover stands at 26 oz./acre.)
Grazing and other issues:
- Begin grazing any time after the Amaizing Graze has reached shoulder height. Now is when you need to use another formula to help determine how much corn to provide your animals. The formula is: DM per day / DM per acre produced = Daily allowance.
- The easy part is figuring out on paper how much corn to provide, but how many of us are actually going to measure this out each time?
Use common sense and let the cattle tell you if you gave them too much or not by reading how much residue is left when it's time to move into the next break. We like to see all of the plant gone down to knee high with the cattle grazing on the other existing forages that will grow beneath the corn canopy (i.e. fescue, orchardgrass, timothy, clovers, weeds, etc.).
Keep in mind that as the AmaizingGraze matures the DM increases so your forage allowance will need to reflect this!
This group is ready to move into the next break of Amaizing Graze. Notice how the lower portion of the stalks are all that's left of the corn. This is a key indicator to know if you provided enough forage for your animals.
- Strip grazing with polywire and fiberglass posts is probably the best method for maximizing the benefits of Amaizing Graze. We chose to rotate daily Monday thru Saturday with Saturday's break being enough for two days grazing.
We also found that mowing a strip through the corn works best for a couple reasons:
1. Amaizing Graze has good stalk strength so simply pushing over the plants will allow them time to stand back up and ground out your break fence.
2. From our experience a 4 wheeler or truck wasn't wide enough to keep the cattle from reaching over the polywire(s) and grazing into the next break.
- It is important to have a good fencer with a minimum of 4500 volts to encourage your cattle not to help themselves to a new break of Amaizing Graze when you're not ready. We use both a main system fencer along with a portable solar-powered fencer.
- Using more than one strand of polywire could be helpful, but requires additional fencing supplies and time to set up. With practice, one person can fence a new break in less than an hour depending on length of the fence(s).
- Place fiberglass posts closer together than you think they need to be (no more than 14 paces on level ground) to help prevent the fence from being pushed down by stalks. This is more important after the Amaizing Graze has an ear because your cattle will quickly learn to bite the ear and attempt to remove it from the stalk by shaking the whole plant and consequently landing it on top of your hot wire(s).
- It is recommended to set up two breaks worth of corn with fencing in each mown strip to speed up break changes and have a backup fence when your cattle help themselves to extra corn from time to time... trust us, this will happen more often than you think and help minimize the time needed to find your cattle in 12' high corn.
This picture if from the cab of a 140hp tractor. It is hard to tell here, but the corn is actually taller than the cab. Without the help of GPS it would be impossible to mow out the strips for temporary fencing accurately. The variety pictured is BH 540HP.
Some of the high tech equipment we use to maximize our corn grazing investment.
Now that the Amaizing Graze is gone...
You have finished grazing all the Amaizing
Graze, and you are left wondering what's next. Well, odds
are you are going to find the cool season forages that broke dormancy
beneath the corn canopy will look like they did in the spring if allowed 3-4
weeks rest. See the before and after pictures below taken immediately
after strip grazing and after one month of rest. Keep in mind that this
was during a drought year here in 2005.
one month later
This picture shows the forage stand up close that the steers are grazing above. It's hard to read, but the stalk measures 20" and the grass 10".
Water access is definitely something you will want to consider before planting. Whether piped or from a pond or spring this has to be in place for Amaizing Graze to work well. Also, consider having the fields where Amaizing Graze is planted adjoin to one or more pasture fields in case you need to move the cattle away from the corn for any reason.
We sow a winter annual mix of 60 lbs wheat and 30 lbs annual ryegrass behind the Amaizing Graze for winter grazing.
Amaizing Graze, or other summer annuals, will be planted into the winter annual stubble the following year.
Our rate of gains vary from 2.25 lbs/day up to 2.65 lbs/day for summer grazing. Winter grazing in 2007 produced gains of 1.5 lbs/day via strip grazing.
We feel that 2.5 lbs/day is very attainable, and possibly 3+ lbs/day under the right conditions. Your results will vary.
Keep in mind that this is not a low management system. However, if you are willing to put forth the effort the resulting rewards of Amaizing Graze will be well worth your time.
For additional information on Amaizing Graze programs an Amaizing Graze User's Manual is available. Contact us @ 615-504-7871 or Baldridge Hybrids @ 800-639-4484.