Greenfeed in a Ration

 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers

Knowledge Nuggets

  • Barley and oats are the most common cereals grown for greenfeed. Smooth awned barley makes better quality green feed than oats but yields less per acre. Wheat, triticale, corn stover, or peas can also be used in combination with other cereals for green feed production.
  • Rough awned barley greenfeed can cause mouth infections. Watch for lumps on the jaw and consult your veterinarian for treatment.
  • When cut in the soft dough stage or earlier, greenfeed tends to have good levels of crude protein and energy and satisfies the requirements of many rations.
  • Winter tetany or milk fever problems are often associated with feeding grain, straw or greenfeed rations. Cereal forages are low in magnesium and calcium, and possibly high levels of potassium, impairing magnesium absorption causing tetany. Feeding annuals during the winter requires a very specific mineral package.
  • Before feeding greenfeed, determine whether the feed is straw and grain or green forage. Mature crop baled for feed is very different in quality from true “greenfeed” which is cut in the early to soft dough stage.
  • When dealing with forage quality, consider the digestible energy content, crude protein, and the potential dry matter intake. Feed testing tells a lot about the quality of the greenfeed and how to use it in a least cost manner.
  • Exercise caution when feeding over ripe greenfeed bales (straw plus grain). There have been cases of grain overload (acidosis) and bloat when cows were able to pick out the heads of grain from those bales. Process them using either a bale shedder or tub grinder.
  • Moisture content in baled green feed influences “shelf life” of the forage. High moisture feeds tend to heat, develop molds, and loose quality. Feed high moisture feeds first in the winter.
  • Green feed made from canola or cereal crop as salvage due to drought or hail needs to be feed tested to eliminate the possibility of feed toxins being present. Green feed can contain high levels of nitrate which have been shown to cause death or abortions in cattle.
  • Rodent damage occurs when storing greenfeed bales for more than a year as rodents feed on the partially filled grain in the bales. Green feed is best utilized within the feeding season of harvest.
  • Regrowth of stubble from crops grown for green feed can provide good quality grazing forage late in the season. Choose varieties that have good regrowth characteristics.
Fact Sheets

Annual Crops: An Excellent Way to Increase Your Feeding Flexibility - available in PDF format only

Annual Crops for Greenfeed and Grazing

Forage Value of Spring Oats and Triticale - available in PDF format only

Re-Evaluating when you Harvest Annual Crops for Green Feed: A Simple Strategy to Increase Forage Yield - available in PDF format only

Tetany Problems in Beef Cows

Winter Tetany - Frequently Asked Questions

Research Papers
A Case Study of Factors Influencing Tetany-Like Symptoms in Beef Cows

Let us know of good research papers for this topic.
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This document is maintained by Mary Ann Nelson.
This information published to the web on March 20, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on January 23, 2017.

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