Feeding Drought-Stressed Corn Silage

Posted: October 28, 2011

Frequent testing will allow for a more consistent feed ration

This year, feeding corn silage will be a challenge due to the drought that we experienced this summer. Dry matter content throughout the silage pile will fluctuate whether your storage is a bunker, trench, bag, or upright silo. Moisture testing should be necessary on a regular (often twice weekly) basis to insure that you have accurate weights. This frequent testing will allow you to have more a consistent feed ration for your high producing dairy cows. 

Be sure to adjust your “as-fed” feeding rates to maintain the correct amount of dry matter in the ration. Another component that you may want to examine is the starch level. With the varying amounts of grain in the silage, your ration will also need to be adjusted to account for starch levels. With this fluctuation the amount of grain in the ration will need to be evaluated and can be quite variable this year from field to field.

Another area of testing that you want to consider for your silage is mycotoxins and in certain situations, nitrates. Drought stressed corn silage is very susceptible to mycotoxin growth. Mycotoxins are very detrimental to the health of your dairy cows.

More information may be obtained in the following fact sheets:

- By Greg Strait, Penn State Extension educator