One of the biggest challenges on a dairy operation is estimating how much feed you have on hand and how long it will last. However, a few simple actions can make estimating and planning easier. Check out these five steps below.

1)   Inventory all feedstuffs. This helps to determine your volume of feed on hand.

2)   Measure storage structures. Using a tape measure or measuring wheel — or even by stepping off the distance — calculate the width, length and depth of your silos. If you have an upright tower silo, you will need to know the height and diameter of the feed column.

3)   Calculate silage volume. Many spreadsheets are available to help producers calculate silage volume. This one ( from the University of Wisconsin helps simplify your calculations.

4)   Determine the density of feed. After you determine the volume of feed on hand, calculate its weight. If you have a silage density probe, you can measure actual density, or use an estimated value.

5) Calculate the weight of inventoried feedstuffs. By multiplying the volume in cubic feet by the density, you will calculate the approximate pounds of feed on hand. Divide by 2,000 to determine tons.

Once your forage sources are inventoried, you can evaluate whether you have enough feed on hand. Gauge the amount you are feeding each day and then determine how many days of feed you need. Multiply those numbers together, and convert the results to tons.

It’s helpful to estimate feed levels at least twice per year: once when your storage structures are filled after the growing season and again in the winter to determine if any ration adjustments are required. Planning ahead keeps time on your side, and may help you capture a lower price on any necessary feed purchases.

Source: DuPont Pioneer

To learn more about these and other corn silage management practices, visit the Silage Zone.