Written by Chris Curran
Dairy Technical Consultant

Now that crops are harvested, packed, and covered with plastic, we need to think about the next step in feeding new-crop feeds and how they will impact diet and milk production. Here are a few tips to be mindful of when transitioning to new crop corn.

Corn Silage:

  • Ideally, we like corn silage to be fermented for a minimum of three months. That puts us out to mid to late December.  Most farms I work with now are unable to build up this amount of carryover due to limits on storage and acreage.  Planning a strategy for carryover for more first-year tonnage and added storage cost would be returned by maintaining consistent milk production through this time, year after year.
  • Early fed corn silage – This affects several farms and needs to be worked through.
  • Blending with old crop silage is highly favorable for at least a week, if possible. When opening up a bunker, the “wedge” feed portion is not very consistent and has lower packing density and higher spoilage than further in.  There is also a risk of acidosis when we feed into the green silage too fast.
  • Starch digestibility is poor for up to 6 weeks and then improves slowly. Supplementing a highly digestible starch or sugar at this time can have a positive effect.  Pure corn starch, fine ground corn, flaked corn and QLF molasses/sugar products are all available to us through our mills.
  • Fermented, old crop, HM corn is beneficial to feed through this transition. The fewer feed changes the better.
  • The protein in new corn silage is not as soluble as fermented feed, for the first 7 to 8 weeks. Adding a soluble protein source such as NPN or urea may help to balance this out.  These protein sources may stay in the diet depending on the amount of corn silage fed throughout the year and soluble protein needs.
  • Add yeast culture or enzymes and an adequate level of buffer to provide a stable environment for rumen microbes.
  • Milk production and butterfat may decrease and there is a possibility of SARA (sub-acute rumen acidosis).
  • Monitor cow behavior, manure scores (loose manure, or firm manure), and feed intakes.

High Moisture Shelled Corn:

  • Moisture range should be 28-32%.  Wetter end of the range is better than too dry unless storage structure requirements influence this.
  • Particle size is very critical to starch digestibility:  on a roller mill 12 cut per inch rolls or more, or a hammermill to get to 1000-1200 microns; 800-1000 for drier corn under 25%.
  • Use a preservative for HM corn if feedout rates are not adequate, especially in warm weather.
  • Lab test to determine the 7-hour starch digestibility and ammonia-N level to see where the feed is in its fermentation cycle and prolamin protein breakdown.

Please reach out to your local ALCIVIA Animal Nutrition Sales Representative with any additional questions or needs.