Fermented Feeds: A year-long investment made in just hours

Written By: Daniel Kohls, P.A.S.

Clockwise Performance Services

As we wrap up this year’s harvest, now is a great time to start planning for next year’s to-do list of harvest time decisions.  Taking a few moments to record timing, yield and moisture of crops relative to the growing season and variety, equipment limitations that may have caused downtime, bottlenecks, and particle size or processing concerns are all items that can aid in managing the handful of days known as “silage harvest”.   The degree and extent of fermentation, which leads to subsequent feed-out and livestock performance the rest of the year, are all affected by these decisions executed in just a handful of hours.

As a member of our Clockwise Performance Services team I am asked to troubleshoot feed-out phase problems in fermented feeds from time to time. Most all of these problems could have been avoided or minimized by better planning and attention to detail at the time of harvest.   I have proposed often to our clients that, from a performance standpoint, more money is made or lost in the short few days that a dairy or feedlot harvests silage and high moisture corn than any other days of the year.  Since they represent the largest proportion of most high producing ruminant diets, the quality of these feedstuffs give us the greatest opportunity to save on supplemental feed costs, if greater quality can be achieved.  Conversely, a one hour short-cut during silage harvest, such as choosing to not cover a silage pile, for example, can rob the cattle operation of magnificent dollars the whole rest of the year.

Excellent quality fermented feeds require attention to five main harvest time objectives:                           

1.)     Harvest at proper moisture

2.)    Inoculate with a researched, quality bacterial inoculant such as Sile Tech

3.)    Fill storage unit fast and timely as possible

4.)    Packing sufficiently and uniformly to expel oxygen

5.)    Cover immediately with oxygen barrier and plastic to exclude oxygen

Each of these objectives, if properly planned and executed for your farm, will ensure optimum feed quality and livestock performance.   Each of these objectives have extraordinary, research-proven return-on-investment when implemented properly.

Form-A-Feed’s full service team of nutrition professionals is well-equipped to help you work with the unique characteristics of this year’s fermented feedstuffs, as well as plan for success in next year’s harvest.  If you’d like more information about our products and services, please contact our Sile Tech team.