No matter which silage storage method you choose – bunks, bags, or upright – there is the risk that some feedstuffs will not be properly fermented, resulting in spoilage.
Operators are encouraged to feed only good silage, disposing of the bad. While spoilage may be minimal, new research has shown that incorporating as little as 5% badly spoiled silage in your ration can adversely affect cattle performance and pose serious health and economic risks.
Here’s 5 reasons to bite the bullet and discard spoiled silage.
- Decreased dry matter intake – Spoiled feeds have a lower nutritional value and palatability. A Kansas State University study found that dry matter intake is reduced by more than 1 pound per day when 25% of the silage is spoiled.
- Decreased production – Spoiled silage will have lower NDF digestibility, limiting the amount of energy available to the animal. As a result, dairy cows will drop in milk production and reduced milk fat. Beef cattle are also affected by the lower digestibility, resulting in poor feed efficiency and reduced daily gains.
- Disrupted normal rumen function – Spoiled silage destroys the “forage mat” in the rumen, adversely affecting the rumen contractions and preventing nutrient absorption.
- Reproductive issues – Spoiled silage lacks the adequate nutrient value to sustain cattle, especially during pregnancy. Thin cattle, weak or disfigured calves, or abortions often result from feeding spoiled silage.
- Impaired health – Harmful molds and disease-causing bacterias can be introduced to cattle through spoiled feed, causing a variety of health issues.
- Boman, Ronald L. “Effects of Feeding Spoiled Corn Silage on Intake and Digestibility.” Utah State University Extension.
- “Corn Silage Storage Issues.” Penn State Extension.
- Lallemand Animal Nutrition. “Ask the Silage Doctor: Feeding spoiled silage.” Drovers Cattle Network.
- Lallemand Animal Nutrition. “Is Spoiled Silage Slowing Your Cattle Down?” Hay and Forage Grower.
- “Spoiled Feeds, Molds, Mycotoxins and Animal Health.” Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development
- Whitlock, L.A., T. Wistuba, M.K.Siefers, R.V. Pope, B.E. Brent, K.K. Bolsen. “Effect of Level of Surface-Spoiled Silage on the Nutritive Value of Corn Silage-Based Rations.” Kansas State University.