Q: "It has been an awfully cold winter. Do I still have to be concerned with heating later this year or did the extreme cold eliminate this issue?"
A. Though it has certainly been unusually cold this year, that doesn’t mean that the spoilage microbes that cause heating are gone or dead. Yeasts and other spoilage microbes can lie dormant even in very cold weather; so there is still the potential for them to “come alive” as ambient temperatures start to rise.
Heating and spoilage due to the growth of spoilage microbes when the silage is exposed to air can occur any time, but is especially an issue in warmer weather as the rising temperatures drive more rapid microbial growth.
To prevent this, there are two important factors to consider:
- Using an inoculant proven to inhibit spoilage at harvest
- Proper management both at harvest and year-round
Some inoculants contain specifically selected bacteria proven to combat the spoilage and heating that can occur after opening up the fermented silage, particularly during feed-out. High dose rate Lactobacillus buchneri 40788 is the only active inoculant ingredient reviewed by FDA and allowed to claim “improved aerobic stability in silages and high moisture corn”.
Proper management is important to avoid aerobic spoilage. Some best management practices to consider include:
- Harvest at optimum maturity to minimize spoilage yeast levels
- Ensure the silage is well packed
- Cover and seal the harvested forage quickly and ensure proper coverage
- Only uncover as much silage as is going to be fed daily
- Remove at least 6” of silage, or more in warmer weather, from the face daily
- Do not let silage sit around in loose piles
The Silage Dr.