By Stacey Caughey Interim Extension Educator-Agriculture U of M Extension Stearns, Benton, and Morrison Counties
As we start to see choppers going into the corn fields, we need to make sure we are transitioning into new crop properly, so our dairy cows do not miss a beat. Inclusion of corn silage into dairy rations is more complex than other feed ingredients because corn silage is really two different feedstuffs: high-moisture corn grain and grass silage. The nutritional value of corn silage can vary based on crop growing conditions, harvest moisture, and the type of fermentation that occurred in the silo, bunker, or pile. When we transition from old crop to new crop silage, the potential for nutritional variation in feed value is potentially great. We will need to conduct a feed analysis before making any ration changes. Your biggest differences will be in moisture, starch content, and neutral detergent fiber digestion (NDFD). You will want to continue testing throughout feedout as well to ensure rations stay consistent to maximize rumen health and production.
Well-fermented silage should include no visible signs of spoilage. Silage surfaces that heat up during feedout and get even hotter in the ration at the feedbunk are indicators of spoilage microbial activity that can lead to palatability issues. To prevent spoilage, it starts at harvest. When you are putting up your silage this fall, make sure that you are chopping at the correct moisture, so it packs well. Use an inoculant to help aid in fermentation to get that pH to drop quickly. Packing and covering the silage bunker/pile will also aid in less spoilage.
It is best to let your pile/bunker/silo sit and ferment for at least
30 days (longer is even better) before you open it up and start feeding out of it.
Managing last year’s crop to have a month carryover will help with keeping the silage consistent going to the cows.
Please contact Stacey Caughey, Interim Extension Educator for Stearns, Benton, and Morrison Counties with any questions at (218) 330-5737 or firstname.lastname@example.org.