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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 relationship of corn silage harvest moisture and maturity to its quality and performance is often underestimated. It’s important to minimize fermentation and storage dry matter losses because it’s difficult and costly to compensate for lower-quality forage in ration balancing and animal performance.

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At Table Rock Farm in Castile, New York, Willard DeGolyer and family, plus about two dozen employees, tend the dairy herd of more than 1,000 animals.

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Some aspects of ensiling remain constant, whether it’s corn, grass or alfalfa. Fermentation, for instance, of all silages is about the same. There are, however, some differences in harvest processes for grass silage.

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It takes 0.34 mega-calories (Mcal) to make 1 pound of milk. One of the least expensive feeds that can be used to obtain these calories is silage.

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The management of large-scale forage production systems presents many challenges that affect preservation of forage quality. The USDA estimated that in 2013 the amount of U.S. corn harvested as silage was 117,851,000 tons, with a conservative value of $7.5 billion.

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Bacteria, fungi and other very small life forms live all around us but are invisible to the naked eye. These microbes can be found virtually everywhere, including on plants, in soil and in the forage we put into silos. Microbiologists’ understanding of the powerful role of these microorganisms in silage fermentation is growing every day.

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