Measuring dry matter in ensiled forages

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Editor’s note: This article was written by Noelia Silva-del-Río, University of California Cooperative Extension-Tulare


In a recent study conducted on three California dairies, researchers observed that most of the variation between the ration fed and the ration formulated was due to unaccounted changes in the ingredients’ dry matter. Therefore, it makes sense to routinely evaluate the dry matter of feedstuffs, especially wet products like silages.

Results from a recent feeding management survey indicate that dairy producers (52.3%) evaluate corn silage dry matter at least once a month, but only 8.3% of dairies determined dry matter weekly, or more often. Most dairies (86.6%) delegated dry matter determination to an outside consultant.

The University of Wisconsin recommends one, two, three, four, six or seven dry matter determinations per month for dairies with 50, 100, 200, 400, 800 or 1,600 cows, respectively. When developing a sampling plan, be sure to consider the weather conditions. After a rainfall event of 0.8 inch, two ensiled forages with 30% and 50% dry matter became more wet — 25.9% and 43.1% of dry matter respectively.

In California, some dairies have reported an increase in the incidence of displaced abomasum during the rainy season. This could be explained by failing to adjust the loading sheets for wetter forages resulting in rations short on forage fiber.

To see descriptions of equipment and methods that can be utilized to determine dry matter, click here.


Source: California Dairy Newsletter, University of California Cooperative Extension

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