Ask the Quality Silage Experts: Tips for Introducing New Corn Silage
December 28, 2019
Q. I’m opening 2019 corn silage. What’s the best way to introduce the new silage without a change in feed intake or production?
A. Silage (starch) digestibility will always be lower in the first three to six months following ensiling. Dairy producers can expect a drop in production during this time frame. To help avoid this slump, gradually adapt cows to the new silage with a step-up program in defined increments.
For example, feed 25% new silage per week to help prevent acidosis and other metabolic issues. Consider using feed additives to help optimize rumen performance, and especially ones that help maintain lower-gut health. This is particularly important if high levels of spoilage yeasts and molds (and potentially mycotoxins) are present in the silage.
Consider sending representative silage samples to a credible forage testing laboratory for nutrient and fermentative profiles – especially if the corn plants in the silo came from different fields. Be careful to minimize microbial activity during handling and shipping. For example, it helps to squeeze the air out of the sampling bag, keep samples cool and ship express, preferably with ice blocks in the shipping package. Moreover, it could be worth the additional cost to run the samples through wet chemistry, given the challenges with the 2019 growing season. Also, request tests for nitrates and mycotoxins if conditions were appropriate for their presence.