Need more livestock bedding?

The last few years, many livestock producers have found they are not getting enough livestock bedding from small grains. If you fall into this category, consider using warm-season forage grasses as bedding. It may be chiseled into stone that livestock must lie on small grain straw, but if it is, I havent seen it.

Data from the University of Minnesota on yields of warm-season grasses as forage/bedding follow. Planting was June 6 near Minneapolis. There were two cutting schedules, 4X and 1X. The 4X was cut whenever the sudangrass reached a height of 36 inches. It was cut to leave a 10-inch stubble; pearl millet requires this cutting height because regrowth comes from leaf nodes, not the plant crown. Nitrogen (urea) was applied at 75, 50, and 50 pounds/acre after each cutting for the 4X and once at 75 pounds/acre for the 1X. Those nitrogen rates seem excessive for the 4X and light for the 1X. This would be a good place to apply liquid manure after corn is planted instead of buying nitrogen.

Yields in tons/acre of dry matter are as follows for the 4X and 1X, respectively: red proso millet - 2.3 and 3.0; foxtail millets - Manta - 2.8 and 2.8, Golden German - 3.8 and 3.5, White Wonder - 2.9 and 4.1; pearl millets - Mil-Hy 300 - 5.8 and 5.8, Mil-Hy 99 - 5.2 and 6.0, Trileaf - 6.2 and 4.3; Japanese millet - 5.0 and 3.5; and sudangrass - 5.8 and 7.3. Cutting more than once would make finer bedding, but it also increases the cost. Cutting should, however, be in the boot stage to prevent volunteer plants where the bedding is spread on a field.

Suggested planting dates are late May to early June in Iowa, south to north. Planting rates are 8 lb/acre for foxtail millet, 16 lb/acre for Japanese and pearl millet, 20 lb/acre for proso millet, and 25 lb/acre for sudangrass. These seeds are small and should be planted about 1 inch deep in a well-prepared seedbed with a grain drill.

Updated 05/12/1994 - 1:00pm