Nutrition Boost

MU researcher and partners will share techniques to improve digestibility of corn stover and other feed alternatives

Corn growers examine the quality of corn stover during a field day in Rhineland, Mo., earlier this year. To assist cattlemen in analyzing alternative feed stocks, the University of Missouri, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council and Missouri Cattlemen’s Association are hosting several free demonstrations across the state. Photo courtesy of the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council.

With 2012 bringing one of the warmest and driest April through July stretch in 118 years, pastures, crops and even established trees are suffering from the drought. In response to the reduction in forages, some cow-calf operators across Missouri are considering significantly reducing or liquidating their herds.

For those livestock farmers struggling to find feed sources, Justin Sexten, MU beef nutritionist, the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council and the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association are working together to explore alternative forages. The coalition will be hosting workshops around the state to demonstrate how to improve digestibility of corn stover and lower-quality hay by 15 percent while doubling the feeds’ protein content.

Incorporating a specific treatment process called ammoniation, producers can treat corn stover at a cost of approximately $25 per ton of forage. The added nutritional value makes it an economical choice in a season filled with climatic and economic challenges. To help walk producers through the process, the university, alongside the state’s corn and cattle organizations, are offering free workshops in select regions.

“The livestock industry is our number one customer,” said Gary Wheeler, vice president of operations and grower services for Missouri Corn. “Through these free forage demonstrations, we are working to help connect corn growers with cattlemen for the good of all parties involved.”

Sexten will also demonstrate treatment of processed corn stover with calcium hydroxide. Similar to ammoniation, stover digestibility is improved with this process and the protein content remains unchanged.

Corn stover is baled during a field day in Rhineland, Mo., last winter. The University of Missouri, corn growers and livestock producers are partnering to help educate farmers on feeding this alternative forage to cattle. Photo courtesy of the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council.

Farmers interested in purchasing or selling corn stover, corn stalks or hay as a feedstock are encouraged to visit the following online forage directories:,,

Workshop schedule:

Sept. 11 at Joplin Regional Stockyards, 5:30 p.m.

Sept. 13 at Brent Martin’s farm in Anutt, 3:30 p.m.

Sept. 18 at the MU Thompson Research Center Field Day near Spickard, 9 a.m.

Sept. 20 at MU Beef Research and Teaching Farm in Columbia, 6 p.m.

Sept. 25 at MU Forage Systems Research Center Field Day near Linneus, 9 a.m.

Sept. 27 at Triple V Farms in Perryville, 6 p.m.

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Mike Burden, Senior Information Specialist, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211.  573 882 5919.

Becky Frankenbach, director of communications, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council, Jefferson City, Missouri 65109.  573 893 4181.

Sami Jo Freeman, director of communications and membership services, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Columbia, Missouri 65211.  573 499 9162.