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Storing wet forage sabotages silage quality

Chopping small grains in the spring is one way to bolster silage supplies for the rest of the year, but doing so can invoke a lot of questions and options. When is the best time to harvest? How long should forage wilt before it is put into storage? Does the silage need to be inoculated?

Plant maturity at harvest, wilting duration, and storage practices ultimately determine silage quality at feedout. To demonstrate this, researchers at the University of Nebraska recently collected small grain forage samples from 17 farms in the Cornhusker State after harvest and again after fermentation to quantify changes in nutrient content.

After harvest, half of the samples were 30% to 35% dry matter, which is within the target moisture range for small grains. Forty percent of samples were considered too wet, and 10% were too dry. After fermentation, the survey data shows energy loss was between zero and 17 percentage units of total digestible nutrients (TDN) across all of the samples in the study.

May 9, 2023

By Amber Friedrichsen



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