Hopefully, if you haven’t chopped some corn silage already, you’ll most likely be starting soon. You know, from past experience, that the best, high-powered corn silage needs some time to ferment-up to 4 months for the kernels to soften-processed or not. But it was a long winter last year. The cows ate more and burned up a significant amount of inventoried corn silage-your inventory you needed for carry-over-while the new silage fermented. You’ll need to feed green corn silage. Let’s talk about that a bit.
Green corn silage, especially fresh off the field, has a few issues. The feed is constantly changing in pH value as the sugars in the plant break down with the fermentation process. The corn in the silage itself is not very available and the green corn silage may have nitrates in it. Sounds like a bit of a mess, but you still need to feed it. Here are a few tips that can help:
1. Reduce the amount fed.
Until the corn silage has gone through an initial fermentation, (21 days) it is constantly shifting in pH. This rapidly changing feed is difficult for the bacteria to adjust to. Reducing the amount fed, until initial fermentation is over, will help stabilize the bacteria in the rumen. Reducing the amount of green corn silage fed also reduces the nitrate risk. After fermentation, about 2/3 of the nitrates will reduce in the feed.
2. Try buffers and yeast.
Buffers and yeast also help stabilize the rumen bacteria, so that the feed is better utilized.
3. Raise the corn level, carefully.
After you’ve reduced the amount of green corn silage fed, then you can raise the corn to meet energy levels. Adding corn to an unstable rumen will just cause acidosis.
4. Use a little dry hay or straw.
Adding dry hay or straw in the diet, re-enforces the fiber mat in the rumen. This will slow down passage rate of the corn, so that more will be digested.
5. Try super fine bentonite or charcoal.
If you suspect nitrates, feed a super fine bentonite like AB 20 or charcoal for a brief period of time. Both products absorb toxins created by the nitrates. If you do, be sure and raise vitamins and trace minerals as well as these binders can also absorb the good stuff as well.
And one other thing. The corn this year has the potential of having nitrates-at least on some level. As the corn silage ferments, it produces silo gasses full of nitrate toxins. Be careful out there! That gas is deadly!
Great to talk with you again.