Inoculants

Pictured above: Lactobacillus buchneri 40788

Forage crops that are harvested for silage contain a natural (epiphytic) population of both “good” and “bad” microbes.

“Good” microbes include lactic acid producing bacteria (LAB) that help ensile the crop. “Bad” or spoilage microbes include clostridia, enterobacteria, bacilli, yeast and molds that negatively affect silage quality.

Spoilage microbes can cause:

  • Poor fermentation
  • Excessive dry matter, energy and nutrient losses
  • The development of off flavors/aromas that reduce intakes and can even produce toxins that can compromise the health of your animals.

Using a proven, quality inoculant adds a large population of the good microbes to the ensiled crop to dominate the ensiling process. The end result is better dry matter and nutrient retention and the production of better quality, more palatable silages.

How inoculants work:

  • Inoculants are mostly facultatively anaerobic LAB, which means they can grow whether or not oxygen is available
    • When oxygen is available: Inoculants help speed up the process of making silage material anaerobic
      • Once anaerobic conditions are achieved, these same bacteria switch to fast, efficient production of acids (lactic acid and some acetic acid) to reduce pH and prevent growth of spoilage microbes
    • When oxygen is less available: Inoculants limit spoilage microbes that can grow in anaerobic conditions (e.g. clostridia, listeria)

Producers are always challenged to keep an oxygen-free environment for their silage, but inoculants can go a long way in helping to maintain favorable storage conditions. Always pack silage tightly, keep your silage covered and seal your silos.

Learn more about inoculants here:
Types of Inoculants
Things to Consider
For Organic Producers