“get corn silage right,” all the way from chopping to feeding.
1. Chop corn silage at its optimal maturity.
- Use corn silage for 2/3-3/4 of forage dry matter.
- Hutjens recommends chopping low (6.8 ± 2.5″) for greater yield.
- Opt for a later cut to maximize starch.
2. Processing corn silage correctly is critical.
- Higher effective fiber, processing score, consistency of cut…the processing challenge is that “you can not have it all.”
- Hutjens’ bottom line – process all corn silage for the optimal product.
3. Inoculating is recommended.
- Study results indicate significant improvements in DM digestibility and recovery with the use of inoculants.
- Hutjens estimates the benefit to cost ratio of inoculants to be 6:1.
4. Packing & covering are critical.
- When covering, be sure to overlap plastic by 6-8 ft.
- The thinner the layer of silage, the more dense it is. Ex. 2-4″ thick is better than 6-10″.
- The drier the corn silage, the better it packs.
5. Balance rations to complement corn silage nutrients.
- NDFD increases during storage as organic acids increase fiber digestibility (initial 3 months).
- As corn silage is stored, more starch is available in the rumen (4-6 months after ensiling).
- Hutjens’ take home message: Aim for “Christmas corn silage!” In other words, wait until December to open new silage.