With today’s high-volume silage choppers, it’s imperative that you sample corn silage several times a day to ensure the material is being adequately processed. If corn kernels are left unprocessed, you’ve essentially wasted a whole growing season of effort and your cows will be unable to fully utilize the feed.
Recent work in the Upper Midwest by Dairyland Laboratories, Inc., shows that nearly 30% of corn silage samples are inadequately processed. And only 13% show optimal processing, says Bill Mahanna, global nutritional sciences coordinator for Pioneer Hi-Bred.
To check if corn silage is being adequately processed, fill a 32-oz. plastic cup with a sample of chopped corn coming in from the field. Then spread the material out on a flat surface and pick out all the half or whole kernels of corn in the sample. “If there are more than two or three kernels, you need to do a better job of processing,” Mahanna says.
Chopper processing settings are critical to feed quality:
- The roller mill gap should be set at 1 mm to 3 mm.
- Do not set the chop length at more than ¾", or 19 mm. If you don’t need scratch factor from your corn silage, set it at 17 mm.
- Check the roller mill differential. Typically, a 20% to 30% differential is desired by operators.
- Check the roller’s mill wear every 400 hours (every 1,000 hours for chromed roller mills). Also check the aggressiveness of the tooth design (number of teeth per inch).