Use proper silage-sampling techniques to ensure an accurate feed analysis, says Kurt Ruppel, dairy production specialist with Pioneer Hi-Bred International in Greenwich, N.Y. Ruppel offers these guidelines to help you obtain good results when taking a silage sample:
- In a bunker silo, move the silage unloader over the entire exposed face. Then, take a sample of the silage from the TMR mixer.
- If that’s not possible, divide the exposed face of the bunker into thirds and use the unloader to remove silage from near the top, middle and near the bottom from each section. Mix all nine of these samples together by hand and send in the composite sample.
- If taking a sample from a tower silo, run the unloader over as much of the face as possible. Take samples at the beginning, middle and end of unloading.
- Don’t take samples from just-opened silos or from the top end of unopened silos.
- Take samples at the beginning of feeding at least three weeks after the forage has been ensiled.
- Retake samples when you suspect changes in the silage or you need to reformulate the ration.