Silage Troubleshooting

Despite the best intentions and precautions during harvest, packing, and covering, every producer is likely to experience some silage quality issues.

Here are tips to help you manage common challenges.

Common Challenge:  Clostridial Silages

What does this look like?

What can you do to manage?

When silage crops undergo clostridial fermentation,
the following happens:

  • Nutrient loss
  • Reduced dry matter intake
    in ruminant animals
  • Loss in milk production
  • Poorer feed efficiency
  • Increased risk of ketosis or
    other metabolic disorders, including displaced abomasums

Example of clostridial silage

Example of clostridial silage

Use a research-proven forage inoculant containing a fast-acting, efficient homolactic acid bacteria

  • Avoid feeding clostridial silages to pre-fresh and post-fresh dairy cows
  • If clostridial silage has to be fed, limit the calculated intake of butyric acid to no more than 50g/cow/day

Common Challenge:  Aerobic Spoilage

What does this look like?

What can you do to manage?

When aerobic spoilage occurs, the following happens:

  • Spoilage yeasts use lactic acid bacteria as an energy source to produce water, carbon dioxide and heat to reproduce rapidly
  • Molds and undesirable bacteria grow due to increased ensilage forage pH
  • In extreme cases, this bacteria growth can be a major proponent in Sub-Acute Ruminal Acidosis (SARA)

Aerobic Spoilage

Example of Candida yeast cells, a volatile spoilage yeast variety

Use a research-proven forage inoculant containing Lactobacillus buchneri to help combat the negative effects of aerobic stability in ensiled crops.

  • Pack silage tightly, keep a clean silage face and limit oxygen exposure as much as possible
Pictured above: Moldy silage

Pictured above: Moldy silage

The smell of the silage and the presence of mold are good indicators of silage quality can be useful in diagnosing problems.

Here are some good silage troubleshooting resources:

What’s That Smell? (PDF) PDF
Problems, Causes & Solutions (PDF) PDF
Mold Guide (PDF) PDF