Q.   Can I feed spoiled silage to my cattle?

A.   I would always recommend disposing of spoiled silage rather than feeding it out. Including spoiled silage in a ration has been shown to decrease animal intake and production by disrupting normal rumen function, which can also lead to reproduction problems or impaired cattle health.

For instance, molds in feed can cause respiratory problems, reduce intake and negatively affect production. Plus, some common spoilage molds may produce mycotoxins that can cause more serious health issues.

Mixing spoiled silage into your total mixed ration (TMR) just does not make sense. A study at KSU showed that incorporating just 5.4% of badly spoiled silage into a ration for beef steers reduced DM intake by 1.3 pounds per day and NDF digestibility of the whole TMR by seven points.1

While it may feel like an economic hit, you’re risking a greater hit due to  production, health and reproduction problems if you choose to feed spoiled silage. Instead, focus on preventing the problem in the future.

There’s no silver bullet to achieving high-quality silage. It’s important to harvest forage at the right stage of maturity and moisture level; select the right chop length; treat forages with a research-proven inoculant that will help achieve your objectives; pack well to exclude air; cover immediately; seal well and repair any damage to the cover during ensiling. Then, manage feedout, using good face management, feeding out fast enough to prevent heating and balancing the ration properly around the silage.

In particular, an inoculant containing Lactobacillus buchneri 40788 at an effective dose can help address stability challenges. In fact, high dose rate L. buchneri 40788 is reviewed by the FDA and allowed to claim efficacy in preventing the growth of yeasts and molds in silages and HMC.

I hope this information helps you produce and feed high-quality silage in the future.

Sincerely,

The Silage Dr.

Question about silage management? Ask the Silage Dr. on Twitter, Facebook or visit www.qualitysilage.com.

1 Whitlock LA, Wistuba T, Siefers MK, Pope RV, Brent BE, Bolsen KK. Effect of level of surface-spoiled silage on the nutritive value of corn silage-based rations. Cattlemen’s Day 2000. Accessed May 21, 2015. Available at: http://krex.k-state.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2097/4652/cattle00pg22-2....