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Time to Check Your Silage Quality – Here’s 6 Tips on How

Silage
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Harvest season seems but a distant memory, about 90 days ago.  Jeff Miller with Cornell Cooperative Extension says that means it’s time to check the quality of your silage.  Here’s 6 tips on how.

Much of the fermentation process is complete in 3 weeks but many nutritionists want producers to allow 3 months for complete fermentation and stabilization.  Jeff actually has 7 tips, because the first is a simple visual check to see if there is mold.

· Smell the silage – a rancid odor probably means clostridial fermentation and the silage was harvested at a moisture content that was too high. A vinegar odor can also indicate high moisture levels and high acetic acid levels. An alcohol smell indicates fermentation by yeasts and indicates air intrusion.

· Empty some silage into a cart – let it sit for an hour and check the temperature. The temperature in a fully cured silage should be within 15-20 F of the air temperature. If the silage heats up you know that fermentation is not complete.

· Buy some pH strips – put some silage into a cup with a little distilled water and check the pH. It should be 3.5 to 4.3. Higher pH levels would indicate that it didn’t fully ferment. (harvested too wet, too dry, not sealed well)

· Borrow CCE’s Penn State particle separator and identify if your particle size distribution is within the range for optimal digestion.

· Use your microwave to identify the moisture content of your silage.  Here’s how from the University of Nebraska.

· Send a sample to a lab – for complete analysis which can provide additional information on lactic, acetic and propionic acid content and ammonia levels which will help you to evaluate your corn silage. You and your nutritionist can use the lab analysis of your corn silage and other sources of feed to develop a balanced ration for your herd.
SOURCE:Cornell Cooperative Extension

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