Another way to extend the grazing season for livestock, which has benefits in manure spreading, fertilization, lower winter feed costs, and other advantages of animals being outside, is to utilize the stalks of crops harvested for grain or seed. Crop residues are not high in protein but can provide maintenance feed. In order to make the best use of crop residues, a forage manager must understand ways to make the residues more digestible for the livestock.

After the harvesting of cereal grains or the seed from grass seed crops, the stalks (residue)can be grazed. Since the plant has matured to reproduce (seed, grain) the plant is not as nutritious as when in vegetative growth but there is some value. Residues are not recommended for productive livestock or other animals needing high nutrition because they are low in protein, digestibility (lots of lignin), vitamins, and minerals. They are high in fiber. But there are ways improve the quality of residues.

Many grain crops are grown in rows with interseeding of another crop. That other crop can be of higher feed value to supplement the stalks. Another way to improve the residue is to process the stalks by chopping or grinding. This breaks the stalks for better utilization by the animal. Chemical treatments can also improve the digestibility of residues. Chemical treatments cause the cells to swell and breaks the bonds between lignin and cellulose. Residues can also be combined with feeds of higher value, such as alfalfa to form a balanced ration.

Overall, residues can provide maintenance level nutrition during times of limited pasture growth. They require little investment and can be conducive to better manure distribution.