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Troubleshooting guide

Below is a summary of common silage problems, their likely causes and recommended actions.

PROBLEM PROBABLE CAUSEMANAGEMENT ISSUERECOMMENDED ACTION(S)
High pH• Slow fermentation
• Yeast growth
• Bacillus growth
• If silage is not heating, feedout rate needs to be increased and/or a TMR treatment should be used
• If silage is butyric, feedout rate must be carefully controlled
• Performance is likely to be compromised due to lost energy in silage
• Review all silage management practices, including harvest timing, chop length, speed of fill and pack rate
• Use a forage-specific bacterial inoculant
Silage heating• Yeast growth
• Bacillus growth
• Acetobacter growth
• Feedout rate needs to be increased and/or a TMR treatment should be used• Review all silage management practices, including harvest timing, chop length, speed of fill and pack rate
• Use a forage-specific bacterial inoculant
Moldy silage• Mold contamination from the field
• Molds allowed to grow due to presence of air (oxygen) in silage structure
• Large diseased areas in the field at harvest
• Delays during filling (bands of mold, fill lines)
• Poor sealing (mold at top or on sides)
• Slow feedout (mold across silage face)
• Discard moldy silage
• Review fill rate and packing
• Use a forage-specific bacterial inoculant to inhibit spoilage
Extremely low pH• “Wild” lactobacilli naturally present in the silage resulting in slow initial fermentation• Carefully feed silage to avoid health problems in animals• Review fill rate and packing
• Use a forage inoculant with a good homolactic LAB
High ammonia• Some lactic bacteria (Enterococcus, Streptococcus faecium) break down protein and can cause higher ammonia levels in otherwise well-preserved silage
• Can also result from clostridial silage or from enterobacteria
• Over-application of fertilizers (signs include very high crude protein)
• Carefully feed silage
• If silage is butyric, limit inclusion in the ration
• If silage is not butyric, watch the level of nonprotein nitrogen (NPN) in the ration
• Properly apply fertilizers
• Avoid soil inclusion
• Harvest drier forage
• Use a forage inoculant with a good homolactic LAB
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