Using Cereal Crops

 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers

Knowledge Nuggets

  • Livestock producers can use cereals to produce pasture in the same year that it is needed. Spring or winter cereals can supplement perennial pasture or increase the carrying capacity of a livestock operation.
  • The best cereals to use are fall rye, winter wheat and winter triticale. They may be fall seeded and fall grazed, or overwintered and grazed in the spring. Winter cereals may also be seeded in the spring and used in the summer.
  • Rye grasses are an excellent option for extending the grazing season as they grow late into the fall and provide growth when all other forages have become dormant. They do not overwinter and act as an annual under Canadian conditions.
  • Western Canada has an abundance of grain crop residue available. Factors such as the location of fields, shelter, fencing and water need to be considered.
  • An emergency feed supply such as hay or silage during severe weather may be necessary. Also, supplemental forage can extend the crop residue grazing period and enhance animal performance. Snow cover up to 5 inches will not reduce grazing. Do not be in a hurry to provide supplemental feed or cattle will become lazy and not graze.
  • Be aware that livestock expend more energy to harvest their own feed compared to animals being fed.
  • Strip grazing or moving cattle from field to field provides a more uniform nutrient intake. Gains per acre are greater when fields are strip grazed versus whole-field grazed. Land not grazed because of snow depth can be grazed the following spring.
  • Whole-field grazing allows cattle to consume the best feed first and allows cows to gain weight early on, with weight being maintained or lost after the best feed has been harvested. To keep cows gaining or maintaining weight using unsupplemented crop residue, move them to fresh fields to ensure adequate quality.
Fact Sheets

Balancing Beef Cow Nutrient Requirements and Seasonal Forage Quality on Annual Rangeland - available in PDF format only

Forage Production From Spring Cereals and Cereal Pea Mixtures

Grazing Cover Crops: Toxicity considerations

Grazing Crop Residues with Beef Cattle - available in PDF format only

Making it Work: Extending Alberta's Grazing Season - available in PDF format only

Using Growing Degree Days to Predict Plant Stages - available in PDF format only

Oats, Triticale and Corn Winter Grazing Comparison - available in PDF format only

Winter Cereals in Pasture
Year Round Grazing - 365 Days

Research Papers

Adaptation of winter cereal species to shade and competition in a winter/spring cereal forage mixture - available in PDF format only

Cropping systems for annual forage production in northeast Saskatchewan - available in PDF format only

Evaluation of Forage Type Barley Varieties for Forage Yield and Nutritive Value in the Peace Region of Alberta - available in PDF format only

Comparison of Chemical Composition and Rumen Degradation Kinetics of Three Forages: Whole Plant Barley, Whole Plant Foxtail Millet and Grass-Legume Hay

Let us know of more good research papers for this topic.
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This document is maintained by Linda Hunt.
This information published to the web on September 3, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on February 16, 2018.

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