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RSS By: Sara Brown, Beef Today

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Special Considerations for Silage Testing

Jan 09, 2010
By Sara Brown
If you’ve read this month’s Beef Today feature story "Manage Your Forage Dollars Wisely", you know how important it is to know exactly what you are feeding your beef cows.
At our farm, we are feeding our spring calving cows a corn silage and hay ration. Silage tests have an unique value that beef producers should understand—MILK2000. This is an index method that evaluates corn silage based on dry matter and energy content. The energy calculation is based on the amount and estimated digestibility of the crude protein, neutral detergent fiber (NDF), starch and non-starch components, and fat content of the corn silage sample. The NDF digestibility is estimated from an invitro measurement rather than a calculated lignin estimate.
MILK2000 is a good way to compare different corn silages because it includes two important factors—silage yield and nutrient availability.
Silage sampling. Silage nutrient content can vary widely from the top of the silo or pile to the bottom. If you are testing silage, it’s important to get a balanced sample, especially if you are also feeding hay or mineral.
To get as accurate a sample as possible, the best method for sampling corn silage from a bunker or pile is to use a face shaver. Cut into the face about 4” in three locations across the face. The shaved forage should then be mixed in the mixer wagon and then four to six handfuls of silage collected into a bucket, mixed and then take a final sample for analysis.
Do you have questions about your forage ration? E-mail Beef Today editors your questions and future story ideas.We'd love to hear from you!
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