It’s time to reap the benefits of the time, effort and capital you put into producing corn for high-quality silage. Transitioning into new forage slowly and monitoring your herd closely during the transition will help ensure that you get the best return on your investment.

“Considering your feeding goals and taking inventory of the quantity and quality of silage available will allow you to make more informed management decisions on overall ration changes,” says John Anderson, Mycogen Seeds dairy nutritionist. “This is more important than ever in times of high commodity prices.”

Anderson provides these reminders when preparing to feed a new silage crop:

•    Consider how crop conditions might impact silage quality: Is there a high level of grain in the silage? Was the moisture level ideal at time of harvest? Was the crop immature or even overly mature?

•    Ask yourself some questions about your operation: How much dry ground, high-moisture or steam-flaked corn can be replaced with corn silage? Which production groups should you target for higher levels of silage? What are your feeding goals?

•  Many questions can be answered by taking a forage sample of the new crop. Test for fiber digestibility, starch digestibility and fermentation profile.

•  When you open the storage structure, discard any silage that shows signs of spoilage. Look for any abnormalities that indicate potential problems, such as yeast or mold. Check the whole plant moisture, kernel processing and particle length, and note any physical specifications that may differ from the crop currently being fed.

•  Transition into the new crop silage over 14 days, blending 25 percent new crop with 75 percent old crop at first. Then, gradually adjust the percentages. This will allow time for the rumen to adjust and for you to fine-tune your ration if needed.