Good management practices during the feeding process will help to minimize spoilage when forage is exposed to air. In the presence of oxygen, yeast can metabolize lactic acid, causing silage pH to increase. When pH increases, undesirable fungi and bacteria are able to grow and further spoil the silage. This spoilage translates into dry matter (DM) losses that can be as high as 10% in poorly managed silages, as well as reduction in forage quality, and palatability.
Once ensiled and fermented, the silage’s quality is set – good feeding management practices can’t improve silage quality, but they can help to reduce further feed deterioration. Here are a few reminders for the feedout phase:
- Remove enough forage from the face. Twelve inches in depth is recommended in the cooler months, with 18 inches being the recommendation in warmer months.
- Remove the forage carefully so the face is smooth and the surface exposed to oxygen is minimized.
- Pull the plastic cover back two to three times per week. Check the integrity of the plastic cover throughout the year and patch any holes or tears so that air cannot infiltrate the silage mass.
- Remove silage as needed throughout the day so it is incorporated into the ration shortly after removal.
- Push feed up frequently, especially during the warm months, to avoid heating of the TMR in the feedbunk and to stimulate appetite.