Q. My silage doesn’t smell right. Should I feed it anyway?
A. It depends on the smell. In fact, the smell of silage can help troubleshoot fermentation problems.
A slightly sweet, acid smell may indicate a good fermentation has occurred.
An acetic or vinegar smell can point to an elevated acetic acid level or may just be the result of a specific forage inoculant applied.
A fecal or putrid smell may indicate clostridial silage. Check the appearance (dark color, slimy texture) and analyze for butyric acid levels.
An earthy smell can point to bacillus growth. Watch for mold growth and heating during feedout.
A yeasty or bread-like odor can be a result of yeast growth. The silage may be warm or hot.
A musty smell can point to mold growth. Remove and discard moldy silage.
For more information on silage smells, download the Silage Management Handbook from Lallemand Animal Nutrition, which contains an appendix of common silage smells, probable causes and the management issue to address the problem at www.qualitysilage.com.