Cows are often put on soybean residue in order to get them off pasture when other forage options are unavailable. Soybean residue or stubble may also be baled and used in rations. But what is the quality of grazed or baled soybean residue?
Soybeans themselves are very high in protein and fat. They are about 40% Crude Protein and about 20% fat which is why soybean residue can be perceived as great feed. In reality, the residue itself is much different. The empty pods and stems contain only 4 to 6% CP and the TDN is only 35 to 45%. The leaves are slightly higher in protein at 12%, but the protein is only 30% digestible and leaves break down quickly after plant maturity and harvest.
These feed values will not begin to support the nutritional requirements of even a dry cow even if there is some grain left in the field. Soybean residue can be grazed and work well to remove cattle from pasture as long as supplemental feed is available.
Baled residue can be worked into a ration once the quality of the soybean residue bales is determined. Bales can be used as a roughage source in rations if other sources are less available. Just like grazing, baled soybean residue won’t even come close to the quality of corn stalk bales.
To review: Soybean residue may not be the quality we often think. Residue alone will likely not meet even dry cow nutrient requirements so supplementation will be need.