Ensuring Quality of 2015’s Corn Silage
Forage quality can be defined by, “…the extent to which a feed elicits a productive response, in our case milk production.” With corn silage, the response is dependent upon the availability of nutrients, mostly fiber (NDF) and starch to rumen microbes.
Generally speaking, as a corn plant matures (see figure below), we see an increase in the concentration of feed energy. This energy is in the form of digestible fiber in the leaves and stover as well as digestible starch in the ear. At some point (usually around 2/3 milkline), the concentration of energy decreases. This reduction in energy is from decreasing fiber digestibility and creates a passage of mature, undigested kernels through the cows. Research suggests that reductions in fiber digestibility are not seen until the whole plant corn silage reaches a dry matter of greater than 40 %.
The best time to harvest corn silage varies across hybrids, but it is generally recommended that if using a horizontal silo that the dry matter content be between 30 and 35%. In some hybrids later maturity of 35 – 38% dry matter is needed to optimize starch content and digestibility. Research from of the University of Wisconsin has evaluated the impact of silage dry matter content, kernel processing and theoretical length of cut on whole plant corn silage. These researchers observed that both starch digestibility and milk production was reduced when cattle were fed corn silage with with a dry matter content of more than 40%. Processing also improves starch digestibility and the roll clearance set at 1 to 3 mm increased starch digestibility compared with a clearance of 4 to 8 mm. Additionally, these researchers suggest that kernel processing is effective in increasing starch digestibility across a wide range of dry matter and length of cut. Processing itself does not overcome adverse the negative effects of very high dry matter and is ineffective when the length of cut is too long. Once chopped, it is very important that forage is delivered rapidly and then packed well into the silo, and this will ensure a proper fermentation ensues. A general thumbnail rule is that forage be packed for 5 minutes for every ton of forage delivered to the silo. Once packed, the key to protecting your investment in this valuable forage it to properly cover and weight it down. If using old tires it is also recommended that they be placed on the silage cover so that they touch, which means you will need about 20-25 tires for every 100 square feet of cover.
Meet Dave Goeller
Dave Goeller is the Deputy Director of the North Central Risk Management Education Center located at the University of Nebraska. The RME Center administers USDA grant funding for the twelve state North Central Region, providing funding for Risk Management Educational training and needs assessment. In addition, Dave has served as extension “Farm Transition Specialist” for the Department of Agricultural Economics for many years. His educational emphasis has been on Beginning Farmer and Family Business Transition and Estate Planning as well as Farm Financial Management.
His career at UNL began in 1984. Dave has been involved with the development, planning, coordinating, needs assessment, curriculum design and program delivery of many of the University of Nebraska’s Farm and Risk Management Educational programs such as: Managing for Tomorrow, Women in Ag, Planning for Business Success, Farm and Ranch Legal and Financial clinics, Winning the Game, Annie’s Project, AgrAbility program, Nebraska Farm Mediation and Conflict Resolution program, Farm Business Succession and Estate Planning Seminars, and Returning to the Farm.
Grow Nebraska Dairy Update
At the end of September, the Grow Nebraska Dairy team will be traveling to Madison, WI and will have a booth at World Dairy Expo. The team will use the opportunity to visit with processors and enlighten them on the opportunities Nebraska may bring. Additionally, there will be information about Nebraska for potential dairy producers.
Calendar of Events
8 - MPP-Dairy workshop, 1:00 pm Gage County Extension Office; Beatrice, NE
RSVP to the Gage County Extension office
9 - MPP-Dairy workshop, 1:00 pm Cedar County Extension Office; Hartington, NE
RSVP to the Cedar County Extension office
15-17 - Husker Harvest Days; Grand Island, NE
29-Oct 3 - World Dairy Expo; Madison, WI
6 - Soil Health and Cover Crops workshop, Prairieland Dairy, Firth, NE
2-5 - American Dairy Science Association Discover Conference; Itasca, IL
4 - Midwest Dairy Association meeting; Lincoln, NE
2 - NSDA State Convention; Columbus, NE