Ask the Quality Silage Experts: Checking for Spoiled Silage

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Q. Where on the pile does silage usually start to spoil?

A. Even small portions of a well-managed silage pile can still be vulnerable to a little spoilage where the pile is exposed to oxygen during feedout. The good news is that these areas can be minimized with good silage management practices – saving you dry matter (DM) and improving nutrient retention.

The most common areas to check are usually:
•    Along the top and sides of the pile
•    Within the silage structure if air became trapped during ensiling

To minimize aerobic spoilage, packing the silage tight to achieve a high density is critical. Also, it always pays to cover and seal the silage. However, these coverings must be inspected regularly to ensure holes are patched in a timely manner.

Then, be sure to manage your feedout rate, which helps limit unnecessary exposure to oxygen. Don’t remove plastic coverings more than three days ahead of feeding and keep the leading edge of plastic completely weighted down. 

As you feedout silage, carefully observe and smell layers of silage within the bunker. Watch for layers of silage that went through clostridial or abnormal fermentations and selectively remove these layers for discard or for feeding to nonlactating animals.

Remember, it never pays to feed spoiled silage. Feeding even small amounts of spoiled silage can lead to reproduction and herd health issues, reduced feed intake and decreased production.

To help minimize the growth of all molds that cause spoilage, use a proven silage inoculant containing Lactobacillus buchneri NCIMB 40788, which reduces the growth of yeasts, the initiators of spoilage. In fact, L. buchneri 40788 applied at 400,000 CFU per gram of silage or 600,000 CFU per gram of high-moisture corn (HMC), has been uniquely reviewed by the FDA and allowed to claim improved aerobic stability.

For additional questions on reducing the opportunity for silage spoilage, be sure to visit us on Twitter, Facebook or at

The Silage Dr.

Sponsored by Lallemand Animal Nutrition