Thomas E. Noyes
The Ohio State University Extension, Extension Agent
Corn silage is being fed at a higher percentage of the forage dry matter today as compared to years ago.
There is good reason for this as todays cows are capable of higher levels of milk production and need a
much higher level of energy intake, including that coming from forage. Corn silage furnishes this energy
along with its uniform quality and palatability.
Corn silage is also a relatively easy and economical crop to grow, requiring less labor and management
compared to a hay crop. There has also been significant improvement in varieties of corn grown for silage,
especially in the area of improved fiber digestibility. We now have whopper choppers with kernel
processors that make harvesting fast and improve the quality of the silage. The cracking and crushing of
kernels increase the starch availability (digestibility) of the corn silage.
This years drought in many parts of Ohio has added another factor to the corn silage that was harvested and
will be fed this winter. Due to the dry growing season, the total dry matter yields per acre were lowered, due
mostly to a reduced forage portion of the silage. Surprisingly, the grain yields in the silage were very good.
Thus, on many farms, we have corn silage with much higher grain content than normal.
What does all this mean to managing corn silage in your feeding program? For the high producing groups
of cows, there is additional potential for acidosis Feeding corn silage with a higher grain content, that was
kernel processed, and combined with the potential of less effective fiber can put the cows in potential
problems. If you experience lower butterfat tests and suddenly you have seen milk production jump two to
three pounds per cow per day, than you might want to review the rations being fed with your nutritionist.
Also, check to be sure that the TMRs are not being over-mixed, which also reduces the effective fiber in the
diets of the cows.
Feeding relatively high corn silage diets this winter will require good management. You should use a Penn
State forage particle separator box if you have concerns about the level of effective fiber in your forages
and rations. Contact your County Extension Office if you need assistance.
CORN SILAGE FEEDING MANAGEMENT
Thomas E. Noyes