Minnesota dairy producer Tom Luebke knows just how important it is to prevent mold and heating in his silage. Even though he solved his spoilage problems 18 years ago, the experience is still fresh in his memory. Luebke began noticing problems with his high moisture corn (HMC) and haylage in 1976. Not only was there visible spoilage, but it was clear the cows weren’t interested in coming to the feed bunk.

“We had problems with heating after we filled the silo,” Luebke said. “It was hot, almost too hot, to touch by hand.”

Preventing silage heating and spoilage is key to having positive productivity and profitability — especially if HMC is part of the ration. Feeding even the slightest amount of moldy feed can disrupt a cow’s normal rumen function and can result in respiratory problems, reduction of feed intake and/or negatively impact production.

The road to finding a solution didn’t happen overnight. From 1976 to 1997, Luebke struggled to find a product that would solve his problem. After having little success with different preservatives, he decided to try propionic acid.

“Acid worked for us, but it was expensive and hard on all of our equipment,” Luebke said.

In 1997, Luebke finally found the solution he had been looking for: a forage inoculant with both Pediococcus pentosaceus 12455 and high dose rate Lactobacullus buchneri 40788.

“When we first applied the inoculant, there was a night-and-day difference in the look and smell of my high moisture corn,” Luebke said.

To control heating at the time of ensiling, it’s important to inoculate with a fast-growing and acid-producing homolactic bacterium such as P. pentosaceus 12455. This will help to get a rapid pH drop during the early stage of ensiling, minimizing the risk of spoilage and maximizing dry matter (DM) and nutrient retention. In addition, L. buchneri 40788 produces moderate, effective amounts of acetic acid, which has similar effect to propionic acid, protecting the silage from deteriorating in the presence of air during feedout.

P. pentosaceus 12455 and L. buchneri 40788 work together to ensure a rapid pH drop which increases the effectiveness of the acetic acid produced to minimize yeast growth and subsequent spoilage, during feedout. A study done on HMC treated with P. pentosaceus 12455 and L. buchneri 40788 showed the treated HMC had the best aerobic stability. HMC that was untreated had a spike in pH to 7.5 after being left out for just 72 hours, whereas the HMC treated with P. pentosaceus 12455 and L. buchneri 40788 maintained a pH of 4.2.1

In fact, using the high dose rate of L. buchneri 40788 has uniquely been reviewed by the FDA and allowed to claim efficacy in preventing heating and spoilage in silages and HMC.

“We were struggling to get a good product until this,” Luebke said. “But since we did, that’s all we need.”

1 Hoffman, P, Stimson C, Trial Summary: Bucherni 500; High Moisture Corn. University of Wisconsin.