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Silage

Plan your silage production from seed selection to harvest and packing the pile with tips from these ag professionals.

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Every year, fermentation shrink, or forage dry matter (DM) loss, robs farms’ feed inventory without leaving a trace. Poof, tonnage fed comes out short of tonnage stored. Maintaining valuable nutrient content for feedout is a constant battle with the variables that lay waste to ensiled feeds.

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It’s well known that some loss of dry matter (DM) and nutrients during the ensiling process is unavoidable. However, during the process of harvesting and ensiling, there are choices to make and management practices to utilize that may minimize those losses.

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Brown midrib (BMR) or low-lignin varieties of sorghum, sudan, millet and hybrid crosses have been commercially available since the 1990s. However, I still receive questions (and opinions) from livestock producers regarding claims that BMR varieties improve animal performance relative to their non-BMR counterparts. Some buy in wholeheartedly, attesting to improved intake and body condition; others say they have not seen the benefits.

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Small-grain silages are among the favorite choices of beef and dairy producers, for several reasons. They offer a great way to feed high-quality grains without the hassle of mixing complicated rations and extensive feed processing.

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Inside every storage structure is an invisible battle between “good” and “bad” microorganisms. If the good guys win, the prize is tons of nutrient-rich silage. If the bad guys win, there may be significant dry matter (DM) and nutrient losses, excessive spoilage, feed refusals, low animal performance or even poor animal health and reproduction. We really need the good guys to win.

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The ultimate equalizer in baseball is the curveball. On the dairy, we are used to facing curveballs that present themselves in many different ways – a compressor that stops in the middle of milking or a phone call that the heifers are out.

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