Ideas for coping with heavy corn silage feeding


Source: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

  • Check particle size of corn silage to ensure adequate effective fiber
  • When corn silage is the major forage, 5 to 10% of particles should be greater than 0.75 inches; for rolled or processed silage, 10 to 15% of particles should exceed 0.75 inches
  • Feed more protein than with haylage rations
  • Choose economical protein sources such as soybean meal or canola meal, especially for medium and low production levels
  • Consider non-corn based byproducts such as soybeans, brewer’s grains, wheat midds, whole cottonseed, etc.
  • If corn silage is ammoniated, allow a 2 to 3 week adaptation period, introduce it gradually, and include it in the close-up dry cow ration for rumen adaptation
  • Feed more calcium, potassium and sulfur
  • Add a rumen buffer, such as sodium bicarbonate, at 0.8% of ration dry matter
  • For milking cows, minimum ADF (17%) and NDF (28%) should be met, and at least 19% of NDF should come from forages
  • Ration NSC should be under 40% for milking cows
  • Heavy corn silage rations are more suited to TMR rations than single ingredient feeding, to reduce rumen acidosis problems
  • It is critical to monitor body condition of heifers, late lactation and dry cows to avoid overconditioning
  • Dilute high silage rations with low energy feeds (poor hay, straw etc.) or restrict feeding to avoid overconditioning
  • Choose a different grain source other than corn 

Author: Beth Wheeler – Dairy Cattle Nutritionist/OMAFRA