More than 200 dairy farmers, nutritionists, custom choppers and others gathered in Modesto, Calif., on Wednesday to learn from experts in silage management.

“Our goal was to get dairy farmers, custom harvesters, seed companies and nutritionists together and facilitate a discussion,” says Ashley Bush with Mycogen Seeds.

Bush says she often sees a disconnect between these parties.

Chuck Grimes, a silage specialist from Kansas, noted that the dairies that are successful in putting up high-quality silage are the ones that have regular meetings with the entire silage team. “The ones who ironed-out all of the problems prior to harvest have a better crop,” he explains.

And, we can all stand to improve when it comes to silage management, says Jennifer Heguy a dairy extension specialist with the University of California Cooperative Extension. A recent survey by Heguy and her colleagues identified surface spoilage and feed-out rates as the top two areas where dairy farms can improve.

“In times of high feed prices, home-grown quality forages are imperative to the bottom line of dairies,” says Heguy. “Adoption of best-management practices is essential to ensure silage quality is appropriate for high-producing cows, as well as to decrease the need to purchase feedstuffs.”

Heguy and Grimes both shared their expertise and advice on silage management.

Chopper school draws a crowdA hands-on demonstration was also included as part of the chopper school. New Holland, Krone, Claas and John Deere were on hand to showcase their equipment and harvesting capabilities.

“A lot of the time, dairy farmers or custom harvesters might expect equipment to do things it just can’t do,” notes Bush. The demonstration allowed the attendees to see the capabilities of each piece of equipment in person. Each chopper chopped four trucks from the longest chop length down to 19 millimeters, 16 millimeters and 13 millimeters all at 1.5 millimeter kernel processing. The chopped forage was also run through a Penn State Shaker box for particle size comparison. Silostop was also on-hand to share insight on its product capabilities.

Chopper school draws a crowdThis was the first year that Mycogen Seeds hosted the event.