Silage can be classified into different types, depending mainly upon the crop or forage that is used as a raw material. Among all of its types, Corn silage (commonly known as Maize Silage) is counted among the list of silages that have a wide use throughout the world. It is used on beef production farms or dairy farms as a food source for livestock. Its fame is because the corn is not only readily available (because of high production throughout the world) to be used as forage, but also is digestible and an excellent source of energy for your livestock. Moreover, you have an option to ease the process down by using any silage machine on your farm for mechanized harvesting and feeding. Following is the step-by-step descriptive guide for preparing top-notch corn silage on your farm.
Growing Corn for Silage
The first step for making corn silage is growing the crop that is perfect to be used as raw fodder. Following the four basic steps mentioned below can help you with growing a high-quality corn crop.
On average, a field of corn silage yields 20 to 25 tons of fresh forage per acre. The two major factors for raising a healthy crop are proper pH level and adequate nutrient supply. Skipping the soil test before planting has a higher chance of resulting in decreased crop yield as you are unaware of the nutritional enrichment of the soil.
Select The Proper Hybrid
As we know that the main purpose of using corn silage is because it’s a good source of energy, so it is important to select the hybrid with high grain yields for producing top-quality feed.
Plant at The Proper Time
For making corn silage, planting the crops some-when between April and June is favored, as it would yield more than the normal.
Weeds can be an important reason for decreases in your annual yield, as they absorb nutrients and water from the soil that were initially meant for the crop. The use of herbicides can help you out for sure.
Harvesting Corn for Silage
Harvesting the crop at its appropriate time is one of the major factors that impact the quality of the maize silage under production. The quality of silage is highly influenced by the phase of maturity of the corn plant. This is because the moisture level and nutrient count are different for different stages of its development. Moisture-level of the maize crop can be measured using an electronic moisture tester. The famous ‘Grab test’ can also assist in guessing the approximate water content in the crop.
Preserving Corn Silage
Chop and Pack
The next and the most important step is filling the silo storehouse as rapidly as you can under the circumstances, followed by packing well enough to minimize the count of air pockets in the silage. This would help you preserve as much of the corn silage as could reasonably be preserved. The best way for packing is to slice the silage into half-inch pieces. Removal of oxygen lessens the time required for the anaerobic fermentation phase to begin.
Trench or Bunker Silos
Don’t make the blunder of packing in a way that the crown over the sides of the silo is not airtight. Carefully spread a covering above the silage, extend it to the silo walls and place old heavy tires above the plastic covering to hold it to its place.
If corn is chopped or harvested using a silage machine, it would surely ensile in a much more efficient way. The presence of carbohydrates in an abundant amount guarantees a plenitude production of lactic acid for fermentation. If ideal chopping plus storing conditions aren’t achieved for silage, the fermenting process might be postponed, causing the forage quality to fall. To sort this problem out, Silage additives are introduced to the process. Mentioned below are the three different types of additives that can be mixed with the corn silage before putting it into a silo:
- Bacterial Inoculants – Their field of action is the adequate production of lactic acid and is used when fermentation conditions are falling below the appropriate level.
- Acids – They resist mainly against the production of molds plus bacterial microbes that inhibit the normal fermentation process.
- NPN (Non-Protein Nitrogen Source) – The protein content in corn silage is considered to be low so blending such additives can improve the crude protein content of the silage. Urea is a fine example of Non-Protein Nitrogen Source.
Maize silage is a top-notch feed for your livestock having high saturation of energy. Per acre yield of corn silage is greater than any other silage crop. Also, it is way too easy for modern-day silage machines to mechanically chop, blend, ferment, wrap, and store it even for a prolonged period. If you are thinking about preparing corn silage at your farm, focusing on the aforementioned subtleties regarding the growth, harvest, and storage will help you out big time.