Wetter is better. Priority makes no bones about it: Water is energy.
When it comes to harvesting grasses, small grain silage, and corn silage: wetter harvested forages allow for the best possible fermentation, which means early maturity and wetter is a very good, fermentable source of carbohydrates. Moreover, harvesting at a higher moisture level allows for better fermentation in storage after harvest, better feed out, and better fermentation as feed to the cow.
At harvest whether bagging, piling, or filling a bunker; the moisture of the feed going into storage is key to how the crop ferments. During this pickling, or ensiling period, the faster the pH drops the better. This allows the crop to get to a stable state and moisture plays a critical role in allowing the bacteria doing the fermenting to get the job done. Moreover, this fast pH drop is important to inhibit the growth of molds or wild yeasts and keeps the crop from fermenting incorrectly.
With this in mind, Priority recommends the ideal moisture for putting up forages at 70% or as wet as possible for grass, small grain silages, and corn silage and 65% for haylage.
This also allows for the feed to be moist and highly fermentable for the cows when fed. It is difficult to add the moisture back into the plant. Adding water into the TMR mix isn’t an efficient solution. Feeding dry feeds only makes the cow work harder as the rumen has to hydrate the feed before it can ferment it to make milk.
Wetter harvested forages offer efficiencies for dairies in storage and in feeding.