The Entire Plant Makes Effective Corn Silage

8/19/2021

As shared in the last blog Corn Silage: It’s Not Just Starch, Priority discusses the importance of embracing the diversity of energy that the corn plant can provide when making corn silage – This is what will make the corn silage an effective forage for rumen fermentation to make milk and components. It’s a good reminder that corn silage shouldn’t be just about the corn, it’s about utilizing everything the entire plant has to offer.

Effective corn silage utilizes the balance of the sugars, fermentable fiber, and starch that are available in the plant. With more moisture in the plant and an 80% milk line in the kernel, producers benefit from an abundance of fermentable fiber and sugars, with just the right boost of starch.  When one goes for more starch and a drier plant, there is less available fermentable fiber and sugars and more wood and ADF than the rumen needs. Richard V. Breunig, President and Founder of Priority IAC, explains the loss in plant nutritive values as milk line decreases and ADF and wood increases in the following overview.

The changes in the plant happen through plant reproduction and photosynthesis. In photosynthesis, the sugar is created in the corn plant and part of it is sent to the root ends to feed the bacteria, which make another energy that is cycled back to the corn plant. At approximately 80% milk line, the plant is done with its growth and now starts to reproduce, putting starch into the kernel whereby the plant shuts down sending the energy to the root ends and uses all of the energy in the plant towards making the seed. The more starch that is made into the seed means there is less accessible energy from the plant, in the form of fermentable fiber and sugars, for the cow. Through rumen fermentation she can only use the starch from the seed as the fermentable fiber and sugars are no longer in the plant. When making corn silage, we want a balance between the sugar, fermentable fiber, and starch. The goal should be to have the highest percent of each of those in a pound of corn silage, so to get the highest percent of what’s fed used.  

Corn silage is about using the entire plant – Learn more on how Priority recommends to make Quality Corn Silage.

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