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Dry matter losses

Preventing excessive dry matter (DM) loss after ensiling is critical to maintaining both:

  1. Quantity of available forage
  2. Quality of silage

DM loss is often called silage “shrink”. When silage shrinks, there is less available silage. In addition, these DM losses are made up of the more valuable nutrients such as sugars, starches and soluble proteins. This leaves a higher concentration of lower-value nutrients, like fiber and ash.

Minimizing shrink loss can save producers significant amounts of money. Yet, there is no single solution to preventing DM losses. For example, in the United States, preventing 10% additional losses can save producers around $40,000 (U.S.) a year for a 500-cow dairy.* In periods of drought where yield is reduced, protection of maximum forage volume from the field to the feed pad is equally important.

Risks for DM Loss

DM losses occur by two primary means:

  • Losses during the initial fermentation (active ensiling)
  • Aerobic spoilage losses

Preventing DM Loss

To help reducing initial fermentation losses, all efforts must be made to ensure exposure to air is minimized.

With spoilage losses, the key is to prevent or delay the growth of spoilage bacteria, yeasts, and subsequently molds, that grow when oxygen gets into the silage at feedout. This can result in silage heating. Again, choosing the right forage inoculant can help.

DM losses can occur once the silage face is exposed to air during feedout. Manage the feedout face properly to help reduce losses.


* Based on 500 cows consuming 20 lb DM/day, for 3,650 tons of silage a year with silage valued at $110 per ton on a DM basis.

Lallemand Animal Nutrition does not purport, in this guide or in any other publication, to specify minimum safety or legal standards or to address all of the compliance requirements, risks, or safety problems associated with working on or around farms. This guide is intended to serve only as a beginning point for information and should not be construed as containing all the necessary compliance, safety, or warning information, nor should it be construed as representing the policy of Lallemand Animal Nutrition. No warranty, guarantee, or representation is made by Lallemand Animal Nutrition as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information and guidelines contained herein, and Lallemand Animal Nutrition assumes no liability or responsibility in connection therewith. It is the responsibility of the users of this guide to consult and comply with pertinent local, state, and federal laws, regulations, and safety standards.