Ask the Quality Silage Experts: What to Do With Spoiled Silage

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Q. We had a wet planting season this year. Will I see increased spoilage during feedout?

A. There is increased risk of spoilage any time there is physical damage to the corn plant from insects, disease or weather.

First, physical damage will harbor undesirable micro-organisms, especially spoilage yeasts and molds. Thus, there is greater risk from mycotoxin production that can be present even when there is no visible mold or bad smell coming from the silage. Mycotoxins can cause decreases in production, increases in herd health issues and lower fertility rates when fed.

Second, higher moisture levels at harvest – which can often occur when planting is delayed – can increase the risk of a clostridial fermentation. Clostridia are soil micro-organisms naturally present on forages. When allowed to grow, they can produce butyric acid and a range of biogenic amines, resulting in a telltale fecal, or putrid, smell.

Finally, aerobic spoilage can occur regardless of the weather. In fact, it’s common to see a little spoilage layer on the top and sides of a bunker or near areas where covers weren’t repaired quickly enough.

If you see any signs of spoilage, avoid the temptation to feed the spoiled silage – even in small amounts. Feeding even small amounts of spoiled silage can lead to reproduction and respiratory problems, herd health issues, reduced feed intake and decreased production.

Furthermore, feeding spoiled silage has been shown to damage the rumen mat – where fiber degradation in cattle occurs. When rumen function is impaired, cattle aren’t able to absorb nutrients from any feed sources well.

To help minimize the growth of all molds that cause spoilage, producers should use a proven silage inoculant containing Lactobacillus buchneri NCIMB 40788 – found in Biotal Buchneri 500 – 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.


The Silage Dr.


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