When feeding livestock, producers want to make sure they are feeding them the best possible quality goods they can afford. Part of proper feeding is storing the feed or forage in a way that preserves the nutritional integrity of the substance. If storing and feeding silage or baleage, it might be time to consider having it tested to see what your animals are consuming.
During the winter months, many producers choose to utilize silage or baleage as their primary forage for livestock. But before producers start rolling out the goods to their herds, it’s important to take the time to have pits or stockpiles tested to see what nutrients may be lacking.
According to an article from Alltech, a biotechnology company whose mission is to improve the health and performance of people, animals and plants through natural nutrition and scientific innovation, the main components of silage to look out for are DMD (Dry Matter Digestibility), dry matter, protein, ME (Metabolisable Energy) and pH.
DMD and ME represent the measures of usable energy in the silage or baleage, protein reflects the quality of the forage at harvest time, and the pH expresses the amount of acidity in the silage, which helps producers determine how well the silage will store.
AgriLand News stresses the importance of testing silage, in order to avoid over or under-estimating the nutritional value, so while the silage test recommend takes a number of steps to accomplish, the end result is worth it and can help save money.
Conducting the test requires a silage sampler tool or a “core.” This tool is used to take samples from the highest point in the forage pile or pit. The top 5 inches from each core sample should be discarded; the remainder can be placed in a covered container or sealed bag with up to seven samples to be sent to a local Extension for analysis. Be sure to cover and tape the holes created in the forage plastic to keep the silage from spoiling. Hill Labritories offers some other tips and suggestions for collecting samples, such as removing all the air from the sample collection bag and refrigerating samples overnight if they cannot be sent off for testing the same day they are taken.
University of Missouri Extension Livestock Specialist Eldon Cole recommends that producers “test, don’t guess” when it comes to any type of forage, and silage or baleage is no different.
Talk with your local extension office so that you can move towards ensuring your valuable livestock really will receive the best.


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