If putting up corn silage signals the start of your harvest season, then it’s time to start monitoring your fields and getting your harvesting equipment ready. Once the crop reaches the dent stage, the window for optimal silage production can close quickly.
Corn silage is an important source of forage in the United States. It makes up more than 40 percent of the value of the forage fed to dairy cows in the United States. It’s an important feed in the beef-finishing industry, too.1
Corn silage is a palatable feedstuff with relatively consistent quality and higher yields and energy content than most other forages. Compared with other forages, corn silage requires less labor and machinery time. The cost per ton of dry matter also tends to be much lower for corn silage than for other harvested forage crops. But to capture the value corn silage can bring to your livestock rations, you need to put it up properly. Here are some recommendations:2
- Harvest at the right maturity and moisture level, generally 65 percent to 70 percent, depending on the storage structure.
- Properly size the chop according to moisture level, which helps improve packing.Keep harvester knives sharp to help provide uniform chop sizing and improved packing.
- Store silage right, especially when storing in bunkers where packing is critical; driving out oxygen helps improve fermentation and prevent spoilage.
Maintenance. Depending on weather and field conditions, corn can mature quickly. It’s important for you and your equipment to be ready to chop when harvest timing is optimal. Sharpen knives on forage harvesters. Lubricate grease fittings and chains, and check bearings, chains and belts. Replace as needed and adjust for tightness. Inspect silage hauling and handling equipment, including blowers for upright storage.
If a new piece of forage equipment would help ensure you put up the best-quality feed possible, talk with your Case IH dealer about the FHX300 pull-type forage harvester. The FHX300 features:
- A 25.5-inch-wide throat to handle the heaviest crops
- A processor that breaks down kernels and cobs and maximizes feed quality
- 12 hardened-alloy knives for an even, efficient cut
- Precision cut-length adjustments from 3/16 inch to 1 5/16 inches
- A 1,000-rpm blower to quickly fill wagons and trucks
As you watch your corn crop mature, spend some time with your forage-harvesting equipment. Ensuring everything is field-ready will help you convert more of your crop to a high-value feed source.
1Corn Silage. University of Wisconsin Extension Service Corn Agronomy website. corn.agronomy.wisc.edu/Silage/Default.aspx. Accessed August 2, 2016.
2Lardy G. NDSU Offers Tips for Better Corn Silage. North Dakota State University Extension Service Agricultural Communications website. www.ag.ndsu.edu/news/newsreleases/2008/sept-11-2008/ndsu-offers-tips-for-better-corn-silage. Published September 11, 2008. Accessed August 2, 2016.