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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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The process of producing silage involves harvesting a fresh forage crop at a near neutral pH from the field, putting that crop into an enclosed storage system of some sort (e.g. bales, bags, bunkers, pits, piles, towers, etc.) and acidifying the material to reduce its pH, which prevents the growth of spoilage organisms.

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Have you ever started the herd on a new silage crop and experienced an intake and milk production crash?

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Corn silage is a very challenging crop to feed, analyze in the laboratory and to sort fact-from-fiction with regards to selecting the best genetics for individual dairy enterprises. The challenge begins with corn silage being a “TMR plant” consisting of a grass plant with high-moisture corn attached. This raises issues ranging from more potential for sub-sampling errors in obtaining representative samples, to the energy availability being highly influenced by the degree of kernel damage.

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Feeding adequate quantities of high-quality forages is the basis of profitable milk and livestock production. Forage production, harvest, storage and feed practices have changed greatly over the past 50 years, and silage has become a staple forage.

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When attempting to price corn silage there are several methods that have been used to arrive at silage values. Many issues need to be addressed in a pricing system, including:

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Traditionally, silage production in the United States has consisted of precision-chopping a standing row crop (corn) or a swathed forage (alfalfa, red clover, small grains, etc.) and subsequently storing the chopped forage in tower- or bunker-type silos. During the last 20 years, high-quality plastics have been adapted to provide a new storage system for precision-chopped silage. In this system, silage is fed into a machine, often called a “bagger,” that packs the silage into long plastic tubes which serve as temporary silos.

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