Ensiled forages are the most common feeds used on dairy farms. However, silages also are the most variable feeds on the farm. The nutritive value of silage affects animal health and production and the overall quality of dairy and beef products.

Here are six goals for improving silage stability and preventing nutrient loss during harvesting:

  • Harvest forage at suitable maturity stage.
  • Chop forage at correct cut lengths.
  • Harvest and store feeds at proper moisture levels.
  • Pack forage tightly in the silage storage structure.
  • Seal silage storage structures quickly and securely.
  • Ensile forage at least two to three weeks before feeding.

The Dairy Animal Care & Quality Assurance (DACQA) program supports the use of proper ensiling techniques to maintain the nutritive value of forages. The Dairy Calf & Heifer Association’s Gold Standards II recommends that you work with a nutritionist to help formulate quality rations and monitor/consult with him routinely.

DACQA is a voluntary, national certification program intended to enhance and demonstrate quality animal care practices, which assure food safety, quality and value as well as enhance consumer confidence in the milk and beef products that are harvested from cattle on America’s dairy farms.

The Dairy Calf & Heifer Association is the only national association dedicated to serving the dairy calf and heifer industry. For more information about DCHA and the Gold Standards, visit www.calfandheifer.org or call (877) 434-3377.