Feeding cows with high forage diets using high corn silage ration can be beneficial economically. Producers should consider several management factors when feeding high rates of corn silage:
1. Evaluate the silage kernel processing
Starch in corn silage is considered a valuable commodity. However, the kernels have to be damaged sufficiently to allow complete starch digestion.
It is important to send a sample for kernel processing analysis to help nutritionist better estimate how well the starch can be digested in the rumen and small intestines.
By analysing fecal starch levels, you are able to judge whether there is poor processing allowing starch to escape into the manure.
2. Observe the starch
Often times, high levels of starch in corn silage are blamed for low butterfat tests as well as under performance and inconsistency in manure scores.
By laboratory starch analysis, nutritionists are able to factor in the effect of time in fermented storage has on increasing ruminal starch availability.
Nutritionists will be able to judge on the amount of supplemental grain required in a high-corn silage diet in order to complement the high starch levels being delivered by today's superior corn genetics.
It is also important to watch the use of high moisture corn in the diet as they will have elevated ruminal digestion rates late into the storage season.
Around 65% of the energy in corn silage comes from starch. Hence, high starch level is beneficial to overall ration costs.
3. Effective fiber
If the chop length of the corn silage is short, you may need to find an effective fiber source such as hay or straw in order to create a rumen mat matrix to help stimulate cud chewing and the production of saliva to buffer rumen acid production.
Evaluate the freshly delivered TMR and the refusals after 3 - 4 hours in the feedbunk with a Penn State Particle Separator.
This will help determine if sufficient effective fiber is present and if any sorting has occured.
4. Supplement fat within reason
Some studies showed that tallow supplementation of around 2% of the ration in high corn silage rations showed some tendency to reduce intake and lower fat tests.
Hence, do not over supplement the ration with fat.
5. Protein usage
It is important to have enough crude protein (CP) and rumen-degradable protein (RDP) in order to stimulate microbial protein synthesis.
High energy corn silage will grow lots of rumen bacteria, which the cow will digest as high quality protein source.
6. Avoid feeding high corn silage to dry cows
Corn silage rations are not suitable for dry cows or heifers.
They often result in fat heifers and cause problems for the dry cows.