High fiber digestibility is a key attribute of brown midrib (BMR) corn silage hybrids, which make them an excellent fit in high-forage diets.
BMR corn silage is the predominant forage in the rations at Koepke Farms Inc., Oconomowoc, Wis. John Koepke, who operates the farm in partnership with his dad Jim and his uncles Alan and David, has been feeding BMR corn silage for about eight years now.
When you’re feeding BMR silage, your forage needs will increase, Koepke says, so make sure that you budget your forage supply accordingly.
“With my diet, which is approximately 50 percent BMR corn silage and 50 percent legume silage, that typically means 2 to 4 pounds more corn silage per cow per day (on a dry matter basis),” Koepke says. “I would say in most years it’s on the upper end of that. It might even get above 4 to 5 pounds of dry matter.”
Koepke also has learned to make diet changes gradually. The key, he says, is to slowly introduce more forage into the diet.
“I started by bringing in the BMR corn silage gradually and then increasing the amount of pounds fed and decreasing the amount of grain fed,” he says.
All cows benefit
Forages with high NDF digestibility benefit all cows, allowing you to feed higher forage rations to cows and maintain, or even increase, milk yield.
However, cows respond differently to changes in forage fiber digestibility and concentration. During a webinar hosted by Dairy Herd Management last month, Allen shared research showing that the benefits of a lower forage NDF diet increased with level of milk yield.
“So as milk yield of the cows increased, the response was greater,” he says. “Only cows over 80 pounds of milk responded positively in fat-corrected milk yield to the lower (16 percent) forage NDF diet.”
To access the webinar hosted by Dairy Herd Management, go to dairyherd.com Once there, point your browser at the “News” tab, scroll down to “Events” and click on “Webinars.”