silage quality

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The Silage Guys goal is to provide assistance to all of those involved in the production and use of ensiled feeds to insure the highest quality silages are produced in the most economical fashion while recognizing the needs to improve the health and safety of the people and animals involved. View a complete list of our services we are proud to offer, as well as concepts based on facts and fiction.

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Today’s modern dairies require the availability and storage of large quantities of consistent, high quality forages.  Due to the constraints of weather and storage costs the best, most economical choice for storing and preserving these forages requires producing the large quantities necessary dairies use ensiled crops in increasing volumes.  A typical dairy in the northeast may grow, harvest and store 20 or more tons of ensiled feed (typically corn silage, alfalfa and grass haylage, and to a lesser extent small grain silage) per cow. 

California dairies and western dairies, where dry hay is an alternative use less ensiled feed (typically corn silage, wheat silage, triticale silage and to a much lesser extent alfalfa haylage) but still will commonly require 10 or more tons of silage per cow. Unfortunately there is always a loss of dry matter and too often a loss of quality in the process of harvesting, storing and feeding out of ensiled crops. 

Depending upon a multitude of variable the total losses can be over 30%.  In typical dairy operations today many operations incur a loss of 15-20%.  Only the very best of dairies can achieve losses or shrink less than 12%.    The economic impact of these losses alone can be significant.  Ensiled crops maybe assumed to have a minimum average value of $35 per ton.  Even at the lower usage rates of silage (10 tons per cow per year) this means that for every 1,000 cows on a dairy the dairy has at risk $350,000 of silage.  At an average shrink or loss of only 15% the dairy losses the equivalent of $52,500 every year. 

Reducing that shrink thru improved management practices to 12% saves the dairy over $10,000 per year.  In western dairies where cow numbers per dairy of 2,000 are common and many dairies are over 10,000 the economic consequences and opportunities of reducing shrink is obvious.

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As large and significant as the impact of dry matter shrink is, the impact of quality of the silage is more significant. As forages ferment certain characteristics affecting their quality may improve such as fiber digestibility. Other characteristics such as protein quality typically decrease no matter how good of the fermentation the crop has. The impacts of these changes are very significant in regard to both the level of production the final silage will support and the health of the animals consuming the silage.

It is the result of the increasing importance of silage relative to dairy production, the potential to reduce the economic losses from dry matter shrink of silages and the opportunity to improve the economics of dairy production resulted in the creation and development of The Silage Guys.

Contact us today to learn more about quality dairy silage and what The Silage Guys can offer.


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