Silage quality can deteriorate rapidly during feedout

The exposed silage surface is open to air (oxygen) for long periods of time. In the presence of oxygen, yeast cells and mold spores that were dormant in the anaerobic environment can become active. Yeast growth is the primary cause of silage heating and is the primary cause of DM and energy losses at feedout.

Key steps to reducing DM loss, maintaining silage quality at feedout, and minimizing health and fertility problems are:

  • Use proper harvesting and storage techniques.
  • Feed at least 6 inches of silage per day from a bunker silo face; 4 inches per day in summer, 2 inches per day in winter, for upright silos.
  • Use good face management.
  • Do not leave loose silage piled on the floor of the silo.
  • Keep the face as flat as possible. Use a block cutter or other specialized silage removal equipment, if possible, or shave the silage face laterally (preferably) or scrape downward (never upward!).
  • DO NOT feed moldy silage: It can cause serious health problems and/or production losses.

Always stress safety when feeding silage:

  • Face management: Maintaining a flat bunker face avoids dangerous silage overhangs that can fall at any time and cause serious injury.
  • Silage gases: Gases produced during the ensiling fermentation can be trapped in the silage or can collect in spaces such as the top of a tower silo.
    • Some fermentation gases are toxic or can asphyxiate. Be careful to allow gases to dissipate when opening silage stored for feedout or when entering a tower silo to make repairs, etc.
The Effect of Feeding Spoiled Silage on Dry Matter Intake and Total Ration Dry Matter Digestibility:

Graph - Feeding

Source: Whitlock et al., 2000