7 Tips For Proper Silage Feedout

Silage is a great way to store crops for use as cattle feed, but protecting it and using proper feedout techniques will help cattlemen get the most utilization of the crop. Hopefully producers can look forward to having quality silage that is stable and well protected. The next steps are to monitor and maintain the integrity of the plastic covering (or bag silos, or bale wrap) and manage feedout to prevent heating and spoilage.

“Aerobic spoilage is one of the main causes of losses in silage production,” explains Bob Charley, Ph.D., Forage Products Manager, Lallemand Animal Nutrition. “The enemy of high-quality silage is oxygen, and opening new silage for feedout re-introduces oxygen into the silage mass. Even if producers have done everything right up to this point, there can still be significant losses at feedout without proper management practices.”

During feedout, exposure to oxygen allows spoilage yeasts to become active again, which then starts the process of aerobic spoilage, causing the silage to heat, driving dry matter and nutrient losses and potentially leading to mold growth, severe spoilage and mycotoxin production. Losses can be as high as 30 to 40 percent of silage dry matter (DM), and the most highly digestible forage nutrients are lost first.

To help prevent these losses, producers should use best feedout management practices, such as:
• Avoid removing the plastic cover too far ahead of feeding;

• Keep the face as flat and tight as possible;

• Feed out at a rate fast enough to avoid heating;

• Do not leave silage sitting in loose piles to compost;

• Minimize time between taking silage from the face and mixing in the ration;

• Discard all spoiled or moldy silage; and

• Use an inoculant that is research-proven to prevent heating and spoilage at ensiling.

Using an inoculant containing the high dose-rate Lactobacillus buchneri 40788 can help improve the aerobic stability of silage. Inoculated silage will be more resistant to heating and spoilage by reducing yeast levels, which are the main drivers of instability. L. buchneri 40788, applied at 400,000 CFU per gram of silage or 600,000 CFU per gram of high-moisture corn (HMC), is the only inoculant bacteria strain reviewed by the FDA and allowed to claim improved aerobic stability.

“Using these strategies as part of your overall silage management program can help minimize yeast growth and help you to retain more valuable nutri-ents for feeding and help increase profitability,” Dr. Charley says.