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Pioneer Experts Provide Silage Management Tips as Temperatures Rise


Proper management, inoculation aid in reducing spoilage, losses

DES MOINES, Iowa. - The arrival of warmer temperatures can create challenges for producers managing silage feed quality for livestock. Warmer temperatures increase heat and spoilage to the bunker face, potentially representing up to 40 percent of the total dry matter and energy losses that occur in silage. Experts at Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, say at least 6 inches of the face needs to be fed daily to avoid increased energy losses.

The energy lost during aerobic deterioration is the most highly digestible energy in the silage, having an energy value similar to grain.

“Depending on compaction, air can penetrate up to a foot into the silo face,” says Steve Soderlund, Ph.D., Pioneer nutritionist and livestock information manager. “Once silage is exposed to oxygen, the clock has started ticking on the nutritional value of the silage. To minimize these losses, producers need to feed at least 6 inches or more off the face daily.”

During winter months, microbial growth is minimal. Throughout summer months, microbial activity will double with every 10 degrees above 50 F. Producers will begin to see a breakdown of the acids that aid in preservation. This breakdown is initiated by yeast. Yeast will start to consume the lactic acid under aerobic conditions and pH will continue to increase eventually allowing spoilage organisms (molds) to grow.

“If a producer is feeding 6 inches of the silage daily, he or she is potentially two days behind with losses occurring up to one foot into the face of the silage,” says Soderlund. “With the current economics, management is vital in reducing feedout loss.”

Experts recommend using a silo facer to avoid disturbing the face of the silage. Facers take off a uniform amount, reducing exposure to oxygen. When using a front-end loader, remove silage in a downward motion or by moving across the face horizontally scraping off a thin layer to avoid disturbing the silage mass. Additionally, keep loose silage cleaned up on the face of the silo.

“A producer has to consider that he or she is losing more than just the value of the forage harvested,” says Soderlund. “One has to look at the entire picture. The loss that occurs during storage and feedout represents loss in feed quality and potential animal performance. The value of that loss is at least one-and-a-half times the value of the product put into the silo.”

Inoculation is another form of management to reduce losses during warm weather conditions. Inoculants containing Lactobacillus buchneri help increase bunklife and protect silage from heating and spoilage by microorganisms.

L. buchneri has a unique ability to convert some lactic acid into acetic acid and propionic acid, which are highly effective in improving aerobic stability of silage. L. buchneri inoculants have been shown to reduce aerobic dry matter losses, making it an excellent tool to protect quality and help growers get the most feed value from their silage.

“Pioneer offers growers a wide range of inoculant products containing a combination of proprietary L. buchneri strains to increase aerobic stability and improve the quality of silage,” says Soderlund. ”Some of these products include 11CFT and 11C33 for corn silage, 11G22 for grass or cereal silage and 11B91 for high moisture corn or earlage"


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