Cows and calves grazing a lush field is an idyllic springtime scene, but for Wesley Degner of Lytton, Iowa, getting cow/calf pairs out on cover crops in the spring is more than just a pretty picture - it saves him feed expenses and improves herd health
Fall seeding and grazing: In 2020 after chopping corn silage, Wesley and his father Dennis mixed cereal rye into their fall fertilizer, then broadcasted and did some light disking. By early seeding, they had enough growth to graze up until Christmas.
Double trouble: This spring Wesley will get additional value from that same cover crop. After calving in March, the cow/calf pairs will graze on the cover crop for about 10 days in April. Wesley is careful to take them off the field if it ever gets too wet.
Healthier cows: Wesley thinks that the cows and calves are healthier grazing on the cover crop than they would be if they were in their pens. “They clean up nicely and look healthier. And it’s good for the cows to get out and walk a little,” he says.
Careful about the next crop: Wesley takes the cattle off three days before terminating the cover crop, explaining, “The cover crop seems to terminate better when it has gotten a break from grazing and is growing again when it is sprayed.”