Storing wet distillers grains can be problematic because it has a limited shelf-life, especially in warm weather, says Nicole Schmelz, graduate student working with Shawn Donkin in the Department of Animal Sciences at Purdue University.

A research project by Schmelz showed that the feeding value of wet distillers grains could be preserved by co-ensiling it with corn silage or hay-crop silage in a silage bag. One blend consisted of 66 percent corn silage and 34 percent wet distillers, she said during a presentation last month at the Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference in Fort Wayne, Ind. The other blend was made up of 37 percent hay crop silage and 63 percent wet distillers. They used a TMR mixer wagon to mix the feeds. In the corn-silage experiment, there was no significant difference in dry matter intake or milk production between the control diet (wet distillers mixed in at time of feeding) and the co-ensiled corn-silage diet. In the hay-crop experiment, cows ate 4.4 pounds more dry matter intake and produced 3.5 pounds more milk per day when fed the co-ensiled hay-crop silage versus the control cows.

"Co-ensiling may provide an opportunity to use wet distillers grains and extend forage preservation, especially for those small- to medium-sized producers," Schmelz said.

Co-ensiling also may extend the harvest window for producers and allow them to harvest at greater moisture.