The Leftovers…

Most of the cow breeding herd and young calves in Nebraska garnish the bulk of their winter nourishment grazing the leftovers of crop fields.  The roughage and corn that remain in the field after harvest (the leftovers) provide an important source of winter feed for cattle.

A group of 8 month old calves grazing the corn and alfalfa field north of the feed yard last fall...

A group of 8 month old calves grazing the corn and alfalfa field north of the feed yard last fall…

During corn, soybean, and wheat harvest, some of the forage of the plants along with a small amount of grain is left in the field.  This feed can either be baled for future feed use, or can be grazed by cattle.  On our farm, most is baled for future feed use at the feed yard, but we do use about 100 acres for fall cattle grazing and winter horse grazing.

Wheat straw that is baled and waiting to be transported from the field to the feed yard...

Wheat straw that is baled and waiting to be transported from the field to the feed yard…

When the tulips bravely show their heads and the alfalfa begins to green, it is time to take down the portable winter fences that were needed to keep the cattle and horses in the correct fields while grazing.  These fences must be taken down before my favorite farmer and his crew can begin spring farm work.

The temporary winter fence on the field by my house...

The temporary winter fence on the field by my house…

One of the fields that is used for grazing is just west of our house.  Archie helps me to fence the field so that my horses can get their winter feed from the leftovers.  My horses love to have a large space to graze all winter and it saves me feed resources to have them spend November to April grazing the stubble that is left in the field.

Out grazing on a beautiful winter morning...

Out grazing on a beautiful winter morning…

Ensuring that the leftover feed is used by our livestock plays an important role in the sustainability of our farm.  The goal is to minimize waste, and the cattle are very helpful at accomplishing this.

The majority of what I feed my cattle is not the primary harvest crop.  Corn stalks and wheat stubble are baled after harvest and provide the main source of forage or roughage in the feed yard casserole.  Additionally, a significantly large part of that casserole is Wet Distillers Grains which is what is left of the corn after ethanol has been extracted.

The great recyclers!

The great recyclers!

Cattle are great recyclers—whether they are grazing a corn stalk field after harvest or eating those leftovers once they have been transported to the feed yard.

The beauty of spring...

The beauty of spring…

When the tulips begin to bloom in my front yard, my horses lose their winter grazing pasture.  As Dandy whinnies from the gate, my favorite teenager and I take out the fence posts so that Archie can roll up the wire and Matt can begin to farm.

Taking out the fence posts last weekend...

Taking out the fence posts last weekend…

Helping me to take down fence is one of Ashley Grace’s favorite chores because I let her practice her driving skills on the alfalfa field while I take out the fence.  Together we make a great team!

Making memories while doing chores...

Making memories while doing chores…

As spring descends on Nebraska, I am thankful for both the resilience of our land and the winter feed that it has provided for our animals.  Our cattle and horses are big fans of leftovers!


Filed under General, Sustainable Spring

9 responses to “The Leftovers…

  1. Reblogged this on ranch wife life and commented:
    “Cattle are great recyclers—whether they are grazing a corn stalk field after harvest or eating those leftovers once they have been transported to the feed yard.”

    Here is a glimpse of what is happening as Winter turns to Spring in Nebraska. Bar U Ranch cattle do not have access to crop aftermath (here is our Winter feeding program:, but many farmers and ranchers in Washington do feed their cattle on “leftovers” throughout the Winter.

    • Thank you so much for reblogging and sharing my post! I really appreciate it.

      I hope that all is well in Washington. Our rainstorm last night has turned into a winter thunderstorm-blizzard. April seems to always bring strange weather. Somehow it does not seem quite right to have both an electrical storm and a blizzard at the same time! Overall, we are very thankful for the moisture as it will go a long way to making the spring of 2013 a Sustainable Spring!

      Thanks again for sharing,

  2. Robert L. Gwilt

    You can be very proud of your Nebrask football players as they took
    a 7 year old cancer victim under there wing and let him carry the football
    all the way for a touch down. Really great younf men.
    Love your blog.
    Bob Gwilt

    • Bob,

      I am very proud of our Husker football players. What they did last weekend demonstrates the high quality of people and the focus on “community” that exists in Nebraska. As an “adopted” Nebraskan, their behavior is an inspiration for me. I shared the video on my facebook page and certainly enjoyed watching it myself.

      I am so glad that you continue to enjoy the blog. Thanks so much for reading!

  3. Like Ashley I learned to drive in/on a Nebraska farm checking on cattle, etc and on my Dad’s property in Kentucky checking on horses, goats, etc. It is a safe and good place to learn ad makes you a much better driver when you hit 16. The horse in the winter is my favorite today… the one of the hay in the fields you can tell it is defiantly Nebraska 😉

    • Those are good memories, and you are right also good preparation for learning to drive on the roads. Ashley Grace loves it, and I love to see the smile that lights up her face!

      We are hoping for temperatures above freezing today as our ground is covered with a sheet of ice. I can’t believe how warm your weather is!


      • I know we are supposed to get a thunderstorm tonight and tomorrow and cool things off. I hope not too much. I also hope you get some sun soon too to warm things up. I know you are looking forward to spring that is slow in coming 🙂 Things here are busy with our jobs and the animals. This week has been busy up keeping things that were harder to do this winter with all the snow and cold we got. We have a cool festival to attend next weekend so that is something to look forward to. Have a good Friday 🙂

  4. Pingback: Maximizing Spring Green Up Without Destroying Summer Pastures | Land & Livestock International, Inc.

  5. Pingback: Heading For the Hills… | Feed Yard Foodie

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