Reduce Your Cash Burn Rate

Sep 30, 2019

In today's tough economy, no one can afford to give up on silage quality. The value of good quality silage in a market with low prices and high input costs is to reduce the cash burn rate or with an improved economy to speed up the return to profitability.

Implementing the critical control points in silage production can make the difference in the quality of corn silage that will be fed until next corn silage season. Paying attention to this sizable investment pays dividends.

Here are six critical control points of good silage production:

1. Stage of Maturity and Moisture Content at Harvest

In the past, the recommendation of when to chop was based on milk-line of the kernel and whether kernel processing was being used. However, new hybrids on the market have different dry down characteristics and this may result in corn being either too wet or too dry. Therefore, use the ½ milk line stage of maturity as an indicator of when to start doing whole plant moisture evaluations. Whole plant moisture content between 65 – 70% at harvest results in the best lactation performance.

2. Chop Length

Chop length is not a static feature, it needs to change based on whole plant moisture content and plant variety characteristics. General recommendation is for a conventional harvester is 3/8-inch theoretical length of cut (TCL). Corn silage chopped at less than 65% moisture use ¼ inch TCL for better compaction. Corn silage chopped at greater than 70% moisture use ½ inch TCL. For brown mid-rib varieties, use TCL of ½ an inch to maintain the effective fiber. For harvesters with a corn processor, use a TCL of ¾ of an inch. Roll clearance ranges are from ¼ to 1/8 of an inch. Aim to have all the kernels broken and pieces of the cob less than half an inch long.

3. Height of Chop

Cutting height depends on several factors including plant nitrate levels, corn silage inventory, current crop yield, or establishing need for yield versus quality. Note dry matter yield per acre decreases by 15% if head is raised from 6 to 18 inches, however quality improves significantly.

4. Inoculate at the Forage Harvester

Applying Purina FI Enhanced or Purina SI Buchneri results in a more rapid fermentation and a significant sparing of crop nutrients and dry matter. Note the use of Purina SI Buchneri helps improve post ensiling silage stability. Don’t let your investment trickle away.

5. Pack Silage Properly

The optimal packing density should be between 16 and 18 lbs silage dry matter/ft³. Note there is a 1% loss in silage dry matter for every 1 lb/ft³ decline in packing density from the optimum of 21 lbs silage dry matter/ft³. For example, a packing density of 14 lb/ft³ results in a 7% loss in silage dry matter. That means for every 100 tons of silage, a 7-ton loss, or $245 loss!

Tractor packing weights depend on the fill rate of the bunker silo.
Packing weight of the tractor = (Fill rate in tons per hour) x 800

6. Covering Silage

Covering silage immediately upon filling is critical to reduce the amount of surface spoilage, keep rain off, and limit the opportunity for mold and mycotoxins. Dry matter loss from the first ten inches of the surface in an uncovered silo can be as much as 80%. In covering bunker silos, use an oxygen barrier film and hold the plastic down with tire sidewalls that are in contact with each other.

Reduce Your Costs

Paying attention to the details of silage making will help reduce your costs.

Be sure to reach out to our Livestock Production Specialist, McKenzie Chambers-Smith, for more information on how to help save money while chopping corn silage.

McKenzie Chambers-Smith
Purina Animal Nutrition LLC
Livestock Production Specialist

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