Negative Impacts of No Corn Silage Carryover

Transition to 2012 early corn silage results in drops in milk production and fat test.
Negative Impacts of No Corn Silage Carryover - Articles


All the hard work of monitoring forage inventory this past year paid off in September. The last structure containing 2011 corn silage had two doors left at the end of the month. This allowed us to start transitioning into the bag of 2012 corn silage. This was ideal as the bagged corn silage tested 31% dry matter and the upright silage 40% dry matter. The cows will get 50/50 of the two silages until the upright is finished.

The dairy facility ensiled a little over 4000 tons of corn silage. Typically we can get by with 3000 tons but because of the short-fall from last year we needed to ensure an adequate buffer for 2013. Because of the extremely warm spring followed by very cold temperatures, this negatively impacted our alfalfa stands and resulted in limited tonnage. However as we plan forward the goal will be to move the herd back to heavy corn silage feeding as well as heavier forage feeding.

For the beginning of the month the herd was receiving 57% of their forage dry matter from corn silage. Based on the forage analysis the corn silage coming out of the upright silo was comparable to the silage we had fed out of the bunk, which the cows had milked very well on. However, I was not happy about the way cows were milking. For the beginning of the month they were averaging 75 pounds. I also observed the fat test dropping below 3.50%. Each bulk tank pick-up showed the fat test sliding downward. I immediately revised the ration to increase the alfalfa haylage dry matter by 5 pounds and decreased the corn silage by the same amount. The concentrate dry matter remained at 40% and the big change in the concentrate was increasing the amount of corn grain. We kept the amount of coarse and finely ground corn at a 50/50 proportion.

As soon as the new diet was implemented, fat test rebounded to 3.55% to 3.62% on subsequent pick-ups. Milk production started increasing. The cows averaged 79 pounds during week three and 81 pounds during week four. Milk protein started coming up. Prior to the ration change milk protein averaged 3.0% and post change 3.07%. Even though the amount of protein and starch were identical, on paper, the MUNs averaged 9.3 mg/dl before the ration change and 7.2 mg/dl afterwards. This confirmed my suspicion that the corn silage was not providing the needed energy, even though the starch tested 33% and the corn kernels were well broken up. Increasing the haylage and the corn grain apparently brought in some needed energy that the corn silage was not providing. For the month of September the herd averaged 78 pounds with a 3.55 % fat, 3.05 % protein, 182,000 SCC and 7.9 mg/dl MUN.

IOFC Results

Month and Year No Risk Mgt Gross Milk Price/cwtW/ Risk Mgt Gross Milk Price/cwtMilk income/cowFeed cost/cowIOFCAverage milk lbsLow BenchmarkHigh benchmark

IOFC Graph