Cereal rye, which is used by many growers as a cover crop to improve soil health, reduce soil erosion and cut down on nutrient losses, can also be a great source of additional feed for dairy and beef cattle producers, according to an educator with Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
While cereal rye is now highly promoted as a cover crop for its value in building soil, improving water quality, reducing surface runoff and recycling nutrients, the grain is also a good choice for producers looking for additional grazing or forage options, said Eric Richer, an Ohio State University Extension educator.
OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the college.
Producers who’ve used rye as a spring source report that it can provide additional feed tonnage on idle acres in a corn-soybean rotation with minimal effort or expense, according to recent surveys of northwest Ohio producers, Richer said.
“Cereal rye is economically sustainable as well as environmentally and ecologically sound,” he said. “It’s a way for producers to evaluate another feed source, an opportunity to get a double crop through the winter and a way to make cover crops more economical.
“Hopefully there are some producers that would consider using cereal rye because of the feed value.”
While spring rye-lage will not have the same feed value as corn silage, producers can evaluate its cost per pound of gain to see if it may fit in their total mixed ration feeding systems, Richer said.
“An acre of rye can yield 2-3 dry tons an acre, which is a conservative estimate,” he said. “It worked quite well in 2012-2013 when producers were looking for extra feed last year during the drought.
“Each producer needs to consider how rye-lage can fit into their beef or dairy cattle rations to be both economical and nutritional for their cattle.”
Rye-lage should be valued similar to grass hay on a dry matter basis, Richer said, based on information from William Weiss, a professor of animal sciences at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, the research arm of the college.
Producers wondering how to produce rye for rye-lage can consider planting rye after silage corn or early harvested corn that is going to no-till soybeans in the spring, since many producers no-till soybeans and the planting window for soybeans is a little later, Richer said.
“This time frame fits well into many cover crop programs, and one of the advantages of rye is that it will germinate up to Nov. 1 on normal years,” he said.
(Source – http://www.farms.com/news/cereal-rye-good-option-for-producers-looking-for-additional-grazing-forage-options-68281.aspx)