It’s common to see a little spoiled silage on the top and sides of a bunker or near areas where covers weren’t repaired quickly enough. It is important to avoid the temptation to feed this spoiled silage — even in small amounts. Don’t compromise a carefully crafted total mixed ration (TMR) with spoiled silage. The drawbacks far outweigh any perceived benefits.
Feeding even small amounts of spoiled silage can disrupt normal rumen function and can lead to reproduction and respiratory problems, herd health issues, reduced feed intake and decreased production. Including just 5.4% of badly spoiled silage in the ration of beef steers reduced DM intake by 1.3 lbs. per day and reduced NDF digestibility of the whole ration by seven points, according to a study by Kansas State University.
Furthermore, feeding even small amounts of spoiled silage was also 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.
Producers’ best bet for retaining production and tons of silage is to start with high-quality forages in the first place. It takes management and attention to detail from the field to the feed bunk, but it can be done.
A few tips:
- Harvest forage at the right stage of maturity and ensile at the ideal moisture level — or as close as possible to those goals
- Select the right chop length — and kernel processing, if necessary — and monitor settings throughout harvest
- Treat forages with a research-proven inoculant that will help achieve your objectives
- Pack tight to exclude air
- Cover immediately
- Seal well and repair any damage to the cover during storage period
- Use good face management
- Feed out fast enough to prevent heating
- Balance the ration properly around the silage.
To help prevent aerobic spoilage, consider using a research-proven forage inoculant. Inoculants that contain Lactobacillus buchneri 40788 at an effective dose can help address stability challenges at feedout. 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 for improved aerobic stability.
To learn more about products that contact L. buchneri 40788, visit biotal.com.
 Whitlock LA, Wistuba T, Siefers MK, Pope RV, Brent BE, Bolsen KK. Effect of level of surface-spoiled silage on the nutritive value of corn silage-based rations. Cattlemen’s Day 2000. Accessed May 21, 2015. Available at: http://krex.k-state.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2097/4652/cattle00pg22-24.pdf?sequence=1.