Corn Silage: How to Have a Successful Season

Posted: June 25, 2018 | Written By: Ron Meyer, Form-A-Feed Ration Analyst

Corn Silage

It is not too early to start planning for a successful corn silage harvest to ensure you maximize the value of the crop you raised.  In the May/June issue of Dairy Herd Management, Dr. Enrique Schcolnik stated four points to help achieve this goal.

  • Harvest at 32%-36% Dry Matter (64%-68% moisture). Higher moisture than this increases nutrient loss due to liquid shrink. It also causes the excess water to dilute the fermented acids and slows the pH drop needed for good preservation.  Drier than 64% moisture tends to have decreased digestibility and is harder to get a good pack on the harvested crop.
  • Achieve optimal corn silage processing score (CSPS) of 70% or greater. Optimal processing increases how much of the total starch is available to the animal.
  • Reach anaerobic fermentation and drop the pH of the silage as quickly as possible. The pH should drop below 4 to prevent pathogen growth.  Lactic acid drops the pH of the pile and acetic acid prevents the pile from heating and halts bad yeast and mold growth.
  • Prevent air from getting into the silage until it is opened to be fed. Once the pile is packed and securely covered, aerobic fermentation should stop. If oxygen re-enters the pile, aerobic fermentation may restart.  This secondary fermentation is a major cause of shrink and nutrient loss.

Not mentioned in this article was the use of inoculants to help speed up the fermentation process.  By speeding up fermentation and achieving lower pH more quickly, you can reduce shrink and loss of nutrients.  Form-A-Feed has a complete line of inoculant products for haylage, corn silage and high moisture corn. Contact a representative today to learn more!