Did you know an estimation of 16-18 percent of corn silage put up in 2016 will be lost, equaling about $1.1 – 1.3 billion in feed inventory? The recommended minimum silage density is 15-16 lbs. per ft3 (44 to 48 lbs. fresh weight bulk density per cubic foot). This density helps with compaction and deprivation of oxygen for spoilage within the silage. Achieving a higher silage density and measuring DM recovery at the end of a feeding period are positively related when put up correctly because you are now minimizing spoilage by blocking out oxygen throughout the silage . This also increases storage capacity of existing bunkers while decreasing the height of drive-over piles (without reducing storage capacity).
Achieving a more effective seal on bunkers or piles is crucial to preventing shrink and spoilage. Standard white on black polyethylene to seal bunkers work effectively; however, an oxygen barrier (OB) has dramatically improved the preservation efficiency and nutritional quality of silage in the outer 1.5-3 feet in bunkers and piles. OB helps reduce shrinkage dramatically and will make you more profitable, while also feeding a more consistent feed from start to finish. An 80x675x16 ft. bunker using OB can save an estimated $10,910 dollars of corn silage, compared to standard plastic.
Various recommendations for silage harvest may be based on: days after silking, days before black-layer, whole plant dry matter, or stage of milk line. All of these recommendations occur during the R5 reproductive stage. This begins when the corn kernels begin to dent and visible milk line is formed. This occurs approximately 3 weeks before black-layer formation and 5-6 weeks after silking. Recommended to harvest silage 35-45 days after silking which targets a 30% whole-plant DM, corresponding to the first 10-days the plant is in the R5 stage; where a 42% whole-plant DM roughly corresponds to black-layer formation. The major determinant of the overall quality of the silage that is produced is without any doubt the quality of the material at harvest.
Putting up silage brings a lot of risk if not all precautions are taken into consideration. One of these is an avalanche or collapsing silage piles. It only takes a fraction of a second for part of silage face to silently break off which can result in injury or death. We cannot stop avalanches or faces from falling off corn silage pits; however, we can prevent people from being under them. Never allow someone to approach the feedout face. A rule of thumb is never stand closer than 3 times the height of the silage face. Never work near a face alone, have a buddy rule in place, as suffocation is a primary concern during a silage avalanche. Never Park equipment by the feedout face, this is dangerous for employees walking to and from the pay loader. Also keep a clean face on your silage pit without having ‘cliff hangers’ which are more likely to fall then a straight up and down face. Safety is key, and the goal at the end of the day is to go home to family, be safe and always be aware of your surroundings, especially while harvesting and feeding silage.
Preventive is more valuable than corrective – SMS
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