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Grazing Crop Residue

As the days get shorter, the temperatures get cooler, and pastures are being grazed down, cattle producers are starting to look for alternative feeding methods to get them by until they start feeding winter feed stuffs.  In any beef-cow operation feeds costs tend to be the largest expense, which makes finding alternative and low-cost feed options a great opportunity to save money and increase profits.  

So what makes a feed source more economical than your stored feed source at home?  Typically one that is grazed and the producer didn’t have to harvest or transport.  If livestock can do the work themselves by grazing and there are few additional labor requirements needed from the producer, then grazing some type of forage or plant residue makes sense.  

There are many benefits to grazing crop residue in the fall.  Besides being a less expensive feed source, there is the benefit of time savings from allowing cows to graze residue versus the operator having to feed the cows on a daily basis.  The timely removal of cows from grass pasture in the fall will help producers better manage the grass for the following grazing season, and also allow the producer to do any fall pasture spraying for weed control.  For pastures that have completely run out of grass, having the opportunity to graze crop residue allows the cattle to be removed from the pasture and prevents further overgrazing.  

Besides the benefits to the cattle owner there are several advantages to crop residue grazing for the land owner.  When compared to baling corn stalks, grazing stalks actually leaves more residue in the field that can be utilized as nutrients for the following year’s crop.  Grazing cattle also leave nutrients out in the field in the form of manure and add additional organic matter to the soil.  Grazing cattle on corn stalks can be especially beneficial in regards to down ears of corn (given that fields are managed properly and cows aren’t allowed to overeat the corn in a short window of time), because cattle will search out corn ears to consume first, therefore decreasing the amount of volunteer corn that would be present the next cropping year.  

Probably the biggest concerns with grazing cattle on crop residue are the potential compaction issues associated with running livestock on crop ground, and an overall decrease in yield the following year in a normal corn/soybean rotation.  However, numerous studies have shown there to be no statistical difference in yield or soil compaction in grazed versus not grazed corn residue.  In a sixteen year study at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln there was no result in detrimental effects on soil properties (soil compaction), and fall grazing of corn residue actually improved the following year’s soybean yield by 3.4 bu/ac. 

So if there are clear advantages to both cattle owner and crop land owner, why aren’t more crop fields grazed in the fall?  The biggest setbacks tend to be lack of fence surrounding the field, no water source, concerns about soil compaction, weather, and a shortage of time during an already busy season.  Snow and ice cover in a corn field can reduce or eliminate access to forages, and mud makes grazing difficult and results in decreased animal performance and forage waste.  In wet, humid conditions (such as a rainy fall) nutrient losses in forages are great due to decomposition and weathering.  Both types of weather factors will significantly decrease the forage available for grazing and the days within the grazing period.  

If you have found someone willing to let you graze cows on their crop residue, how do you know if it will make sense economically?  Before fence is put up and cows are moved, a grazing agreement must be in place.  Grazing leases are typically priced on a per-acre basis or determined on the number of animal units per month (AUM) of grazing.  Land owners and livestock owners must agree upon a start date to the lease, as well as a flexible date that cattle must be removed by.  Is it determined by a specific number of grazing days, the date of the first snow storm, or is the farmer planning on doing fall tillage yet and cows need to be removed before the ground freezes?  Other factors to consider in the lease are the stocking rate, who puts up/maintains the fence, and is water available or does the cattle owner need to haul it in.   There are several helpful resources and spreadsheets online that landowners and cattle producers can use to help them determine a fair lease agreement. 

In short there are many advantages to fall crop residue grazing, for both the landowner and the cattle producer.  Grazing of corn residue can be a low-cost source of feed for cattle, while being an additional source of income for crop farmers without having detrimental effects to their land or future crop yields.  Utilize available resources to help determine a fair grazing lease agreement for both parties.  

By: Melissa Runck, she is an Extension Educator-Ag Production Systems with University of Minnesota Extension in Murray and Pipestone Counties.

Murray County Eligible for Emergency Loans Following Presidential Disaster Declaration

Murray County was declared a primary disaster due to severe storms and flooding. Under this designation, producers with operations in any primary or contiguous county are eligible to apply for low interest emergency loans. 

Emergency loans help producers recover from production and physical losses due to drought, flooding and other natural disasters or quarantine.  

Producers have eight months from the date of the declaration (9/5/2018) to apply for emergency loan assistance. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. Producers can borrow up to 100 percent of actual production or physical losses, to a maximum amount of $500,000.  

For more information about emergency loans, please contact your local FSA office or visit 

Darlene Mechtenberg Honored for 50 Years of Nursing & Distinguished Service Award

Darlene Mechtenberg achieved a major milestone this year not many do—50 years of nursing! Many shared in her celebration last week at Murray County Medical Center. It was a party filled with friends, family and colleagues including her husband, Larry, long-time friend from Alexandria, Linda, and many other fellow past and present co-workers and nurses. 

Mary Turner, President, Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), made the trip down from the Twin Cities to acknowledge Darlene as the recipient of the MNA’s Distinguished Service Award.  The Distinguished Service Award honors the nurse who displays sustained and substantial contributions to the health and well-being of the community within which he/she lives and works. Turner acknowledged Darlene’s longtime commitment and passion for her community and patients as a nurse. “You are the epitome of what a nurse should be,” she stated, as she and Darlene hugged and held back some happy tears. 

Mechtenberg’s interest in nursing began at young age right here in Slayton. She was 14 when she back working under veteran dietitian, Jean Asplin, as a ‘juice girl’ at Murray County Memorial Hospital. She graduated from Augsburg College with a 4-year nursing degree and spent the next 20 years in various roles at Lincoln, Lyon, Pipestone and Murray Public Health. She also taught the Associate Degree in Nursing at Worthington Community College, now Minnesota West, and she continues to work with several of those students today! 

In 1989 she ended up right where it all began. Darlene has held multiple nursing ‘hats’  at Murray County Medical Center over the past 30 years, but one of the biggest roles has been her commitment and passion for community service. She spearheaded “Germ Camp” and visits daycares like WonderWorld to educate children on the importance of washing their hands to prevent infection. Children get to experience fake germs on their hands and can see the germs light up with the black light in the tent. “It’s always fun to see their reaction and to teach them the importance of hand hygiene and washing,” exclaimed Darlene.

Darlene will continue working in Infection Control and Employee Health three days a week at MCMC. She will be honored by the Minnesota Nursing Association in the Twin Cities Sunday, October 7th with the Distinguished Service Award.

MCMC Auxiliary Selling T-Shirts to Raise Money for New Mammogram Gowns & Robes

October is Breast Cancer Awareness and Murray County Medical Center’s (MCMC) Auxiliary is teaming up with 507 Designs for a mammogram gown and robe fundraiser. The Auxiliary and 507 Designs are selling a limited quantity of breast cancer awareness long-sleeve and short- sleeve shirts. The shirt proceeds will allow MCMC’s Radiology Department to purchase new mammogram gowns and cozy robes for patients to wear during screenings and procedures. 

Breast Cancer Awareness T-Shirts - Order Yours Today!

Purchase your breast cancer awareness fundraiser t-shirt online at: Long-sleeve shirts are $18 for sizes SM - XL and $20 for 2X. Short-sleeve shirts are $16 for sizes SM-XL and $18 for 2X. There is a limited quantity so don’t delay! Once they’re gone, they’re gone! Orders will be picked up at 507 Designs.

Early Detection with Mammograms

One in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. Breast cancer prevention, early detection and treatment are so important. MCMC offers 2D mammography, 3D mammography for advanced detection and Breast Ultrasound. Talk to your provider about which screenings are necessary for you. Several factors are taken into consideration including your gender, age, health conditions and various types of cancer. It is recommended that women have an annual mammogram after reaching age 40.  A baseline mammogram is recommended between 35 and 40. Most insurance providers cover a baseline mammogram and yearly mammogram.

Women’s Health Lunch & Learn Fundraiser, Thurs, Oct 25 @ 12 PM 

Susan Olson, NP, will present a lunch and learn on Women’s Health at 12 pm on Thursday, October 25th. Soup, salad and a breadstick will be provided along with goodie bags. The cost is $6 and all proceeds go toward the mammogram gowns and robes. Please RSVP online under “Events” at or call 507.836.1239.

About The Murray County Medical Center Auxiliary

The MCMC Auxiliary is a group of members and MCMC staff who support the facility through volunteer and fundraising efforts. The Auxiliary meets the second Thursday of each month at MCMC’s Dining Room to discuss volunteer and fundraising opportunities and listens to a featured monthly speaker. Auxiliary members volunteer to assist patients in outreach and surgery, judge hospital special events, decorate the hospital at the holidays and help at special events as needed. The Auxiliary has held a number of fundraisers over the years allowing for a many donations including: patient televisions, surgery waiting area items, outdoor benches at the main entrance and wall décor. The Auxiliary’s latest donation is going to an ER waiting room makeover of fresh paint, new wall décor in memory of Jean Asplin and a new cabinet. The update should be complete in November.

The Auxiliary always welcomes new members. If you would like to join please consider attending a future meeting or contact Linda Olson at 507.836.8488. 

Auxiliary Members:

Dorothy Bloemendaal, Ginny Bertrand, Dorothy Byers, Almie Carlson, Laura Carter, Roy Carter, LaDonna Christians, Ruth Engenes, Judy Horn, Joann Jefson, Krista Keller, Margaret Kluis, Gladys Knapper, Shirley Legler, Claris Nord, Linda Olson, Kay Onken, Jean Sagmoe, Sharon Severeid 


Murray County Medical Center Offering Discounted Heart, Vascular Screens

SLAYTON, Minn. — Heart and vascular screens will be available at the Murray County Medical Center from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Oct. 22-23 for a discounted rate of $25 each.

The Heart Screen uses advanced tools and diagnostics to uncover critical details about patients’ hearts. The screening is recommended for anyone aged 40-75, and includes the following:

CT calcium score


Non-fasting cholesterol

Blood pressure

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Framingham Score (risk estimate for developing heart disease in the next 10 years)

The Vascular Screen examines details about the health of the patient’s vascular system. The vascular system consists of arteries and veins which circulate oxygen and nutrients throughout the body and remove waste. The screening is recommended for patients ages 40 and older, although people with type 1 diabetes should be screened at age 30 and older. The screen includes:

Stroke/carotid artery ultrasound

Abdominal aortic aneurysm ultrasound

Ankle/brachial index

The screening event will be held at the Murray County Medical Center at 2042 Juniper Ave., Slayton, Minn., 56172. Call 888-996-4673 to make an appointment.

About Sanford Health

Sanford Health is one of the largest health care systems in the nation, with 44 hospitals and nearly 300 clinics in nine states and four countries. Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and serving the Upper Midwest, with nearly 1,400 physicians, Sanford Health is dedicated to several initiatives, including global children’s clinics, genomic medicine and specialized centers researching cures for type 1 diabetes, breast cancer and other diseases. Sanford Health has 28,000 employees, making it the largest employer in the Dakotas. Nearly $1 billion in gifts from philanthropist Denny Sanford over the past decade have transformed how Sanford Health can improve the human condition. For information, visit