Using Crop Residues

Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers
Knowledge Nuggets
  • Crop residues of chaff and straw from cereal, pulse and oilseed crops are a source of feed for livestock. The residue can either be grazed in the field where it is produced or packaged and transported to another location for feeding.
  • Chaff consists of glumes, hulls, unthreshed heads, short straw, leaf material, weed seeds and whole or cracked kernels. Chaff has a higher nutritive value than straw and can vary depending on crop type and the amount of crop and weed seeds.
  • On conventional combines where the chaff exits the combine in a separate stream, the chaff alone can be bunched and collected. On rotary combines, the chaff and straw exit the combine in a single stream.
  • Grain in the chaff increases the feed quality. If there are a large number of small kernels in the sample, the combine can be set to throw the light kernels over to the chaff. If the chaff contains more broken straw, it will have a lower feed value.
  • Field grazing crop residue during fall and winter can reduce feed and yardage costs. Costs associated with field grazing include combine attachments for bunching, electric fencing, wind protection, water provision and supplemental feed.
  • Costs of baling, hauling and handling chaff after combining may cancel economic benefits to using crop residues.
  • Field grazing has environmental advantages. It reduces the use of diesel fuel, and a higher level of nitrogen is recycled back into the soil through manure and urine compared to feeding in confinement and mechanically spreading the manure the following summer.
  • Higher cutting heights when direct combining can produce feed with higher nutritive values than when cut at ground level. Although this approach reduces total straw yield, it improves the quality of the feed.
  • Feed test and adjust ration supplementation during winter grazing. For mature pregnant animals both protein and energy requirements increase during the second and third trimester.
  • Use protein supplements when chaff contains less than 6 per cent crude protein to enhance the digestion of low quality roughage.
  • Plant-based supplements such as canola meal or alfalfa hay are a more effective form of protein supplementation than non-protein nitrogen sources but may require mixing with other feeds to achieve adequate palatability.
  • Minerals designed for cereal based rations, salt and vitamins are needed when feeding chaff/straw rations.
Fact Sheets
Crop Residue Collection for Field Grazing

Crop Residue Collection for Field Grazing

Crop Residue for Field Grazing – YouTube

Crop Residue Collection for Field Grazing – Calculator

Crop Residues for Livestock Feed - available in PDF format only

Estimating Crop Residue Available for Grazing - available in PDF format

Grazing Crop Residues with Beef Cattle - available in PDF format

Increasing Cow/Calf Profitability Using Chaff and Chaff/Straw Feedstuffs

Utilizing Crop Residues in Winter Feeding Systems for Beef Cattle - available in PDF format only

Year Round Grazing - 365 Days - available in PDF format

Research Papers
Comparison of grazing oat and pea crop residue versus feeding grass–legume hay on beef cow performance, reproductive efficiency, and system cost - available in PDF format only

Effects of supplementing spring calving beef cows grazing barley crop residue with a wheat–corn blend dried distillers grains with solubles on animal performance and estimated dry matter intake - available in PDF format only
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This information published to the web on April 5, 2007.
Last Reviewed/Revised on March 2, 2017.

Home | Contact Us | Privacy Statement
The user agrees to the terms and conditions set out in the Copyright and Disclaimer © 2007 - 2018 Her Majesty the Queen