With today's high-volume silage choppers, it's imperative 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 growing season of effort and cows will be unable to fully utilize this feed.
Recent work by Dairyland Labs in the Upper Midwest shows that nearly 30% of the corn silage samples coming through for analysis are inadequately processed. And only 13% show optimal processing, says Bill Mahanna, global nutritional sciences coordinator for Pioneer.
To check if corn silage is adequately processed, grab a 32-ounce plastic cup and fill it with a representative sample of chopped corn coming in the from the field. Then spread the material out on a flat surface. 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,” says Mahanna.
Chopper processing settings are critical:
• The roller mill gap should be set at 1 to 3 mm.
• Do not set the chop length greater than ¾”, or 19 mm. If you don't need scratch factor from your corn silage, set at 17 mm.
• Check the roller mill differential. Typically, a 20% to 30% differential is desired.
• Check roller mill wear every 400 hours, unless chromed roller mills (then every 1,000 hours). Also check the aggressiveness of the teeth design (#teeth/inch).