Q. Do you have any recommendations for feeding schedules in the summer? Is it better to feed during the night when it is cooler or does that not make much of a difference?

A. There are two major considerations for feeding during the summer ─ minimizing heating in the feed and adjusting the feeding schedule to help cope with the warmer weather.

Silage heating can become a greater problem in the warm summer months. It’s important to ensure that the forage for the total mixed ration (TMR) is cool, aerobically stable and free of spoilage yeast or mold activity. Although you can’t change the aerobic stability of your current silage pile, if your forage is known to have heating challenges, consider using an efficient aerobic stability inoculant at harvest for next year’s forage. This helps ensure the silage stays cool both in the bunk and in the TMR. I recommend an inoculant containing L. buchneri 40788 for its leading aerobic stability capabilities. 

If you have a problem with existing silage, one possible solution is to treat the TMR with a chemical TMR treatment proven to prevent heating.  Although this option is less efficient than treating the crop at ensiling with the FDA-reviewed high dose rate L. buchneri 40788, and more expensive, it should help to manage unstable silage inventory.

To help avoid heat-related challenges this summer, mix and feed the TMR at least twice daily – ideally in the early morning and in the early evening. I recommend that 40% to 45% of the ration be fed during the morning feeding, with the remaining 55% to 60% fed in the evening. This allows the cows to eat and digest in the morning before the barn gets too hot and to eat more throughout the night once the barn has cooled.  The effects of higher summer temperatures on performance can also be reduced by using an active dry yeast proven to help optimize rumen function, such as Levucell® SC.

I hope this information helps.


The Silage Dr.