Monitoring Corn Silage Quality at Feed Out

Feb 15, 2020


Tara Ellerman

Countryside Feed Sales & Nutrition Professional

The best time to begin feeding out of corn silage is once it has fully fermented and been stored long enough for fiber and starch to reach their maximum digestibility. But don’t forget it’s important to continuously monitor quality year-round to ensure you are feeding the most effective rations.

As long as corn silage was packed and sealed well during storage, it should be a viable feed source. But don’t be surprised if you see some quality issues when you first dig into a bag, pile or bunker. Yeasts and molds grow rapidly in silage exposed to oxygen, causing spoilage and often high levels of various toxins. This is most commonly seen when beginning and ending a silage source due to difficulty packing these areas adequately. For this reason, transitioning from one silage source to another is a critical time to monitor cows, as toxins can trigger several herd health issues and ultimately reduce production for a short period of time.

Proper face management is very important when feeding silages as well. Preventing oxygen exposure while feeding silage inventory helps minimize yeast and mold growth. Maintaining a face that is as flat and vertical as possible exposes less surface area to oxygen. Another management tip is to cut silage away from the pile in a downward motion before scooping feed into a loader bucket. Digging in low on a face and scooping up loosens the packing, allowing oxygen easier access to silage for several feet behind the face.

Even when good silage face management practices are used, hot spots – or pockets of silage high in toxins – can still occur. Feed additives can be utilized to bind toxins and promote ruminal and intestinal health while feeding through these situations. Discarding spoiled feed to avoid negative impacts of toxins can also be an option in severe scenarios. We recommend discussing toxins with your Countryside Feed nutritionist to determine the best strategy for your specific situation.

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