So far, spring has been as rough as this winter.
The alfalfa killed out-in some places, nearly 100%. It didn’t seem to matter much if you had left stubble or not-no sense beating yourself up about that.
We’re going to be feeding a lot of different kinds of feed this year: small grain silage, peas, sudanlage, sorghum, ryegrass-just to name a few. But for many, we’re just going to raise the level of corn silage that will be fed.
This year, corn silage will replace most or all of the haylage that is normally fed. Now, while we can make 100% corn silage diets work, they are pretty tricky, especially if the corn silage has a high level of corn in it. Having said that, we can feed up to 85% corn silage and maintain good production, with a few slight small adjustments. Here are some tips for feeding more corn silage:
1. Pair the corn silage with some feed that has particle size.
Corn silage tends to run a little on the short size when it comes to particle length and chopping it “long” can result in poor packing and spoilage. Use some chopped hay, straw or a small amount of longer cut haylage/baleage to balance to help rumen function.
2. Feed more soluble protein
When feeding corn silage, you’ll need to feed a little more protein-but not as much as you might think. The increased energy level increases the cow’s own microbial protein production-reducing the amount of crude protein to be fed.
Soluble protein sources such as soybean meal, canola meal and urea can work well feeding high corn silage diets.
3. Use extra lysine
Lysine is the amino acid (part of the protein make up) that is most limiting when feeding a lot of corn silage.
You can by synthetic lysine by itself, or use more natural sources found in feedstuffs such as soybean oil meal, canola or blood meal.
4. Use a buffer
It’s a pretty heavy load of starch when feeding so much corn silage. Adding a buffer to stabilize the rumen should help maintain components. Good old-fashioned sodium bicarb still works best.
5. Up the calcium
Corn silage diets are notoriously low in calcium. Make sure you’re feeding plenty as low calcium levels will lower production and fat test.
6. Use palm fat
There is a lot of corn oil in high corn silage diets and many C:18 fats-cottonseed, roasted beans, products with high levels of stearic fats (like Energy Booster 100) are absorbed in similar patterns and will add to an even higher level of double bonded fatty acids in the milk. In other words, your regular butterfat test will take a dive. Replacing that source with palm fat (C:16), should increase the fat test in that situation as it is absorbed differently.