Making Silage? Protect your Investment for the Long-term - UNL CropWatch, July 27, 2012

Making Silage? Protect your Investment for the Long-term - UNL CropWatch, July 27, 2012

July 27, 2012

Many of you are chopping or about to chop silage. If you’re going to invest the time and money to store good feed, take the added steps to maintain its quality.

After silage has been chopped and piled and packed correctly, it still can be damaged seriously by air and moisture slowly penetrating the outer 3 to 4 feet. Animals often eat less when fed moldy silage and can even experience health problems due to mycotoxins.

Good, well-eared silage can lose over 20% percent of its feed value from fermentation and spoilage under normal conditions. Silage made from corn with little or no grain might have even greater losses. This loss can be cut in half or even more if the silage is kept well covered by plastic.

Cover freshly chopped silage with black plastic immediately after you finish filling the trench, bunker, or pile. Then cover the plastic with something to help hold it down. Old tires are readily available and do a good job of keeping the plastic from blowing away, but they only keep keep pressure on the silage directly under the tire. In between the tires, air can circulate and cause spoilage.

An even better choice would be a solid cover, something like freshly chopped forage or weeds or maybe even a 3- to 4-inch layer of manure. This would ensure that the entire surface of silage is fully protected and reduce the chance for air bubbles to form under the plastic, which could reduce silage quality.

You go to a lot of time and expense to make good silage. Isn't it worth it to protect that investment?

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist