Imagine the ideal corn silage product. A hybrid that was design and the bred specifically for the dairy industry and the production of milk.It would be a large plant that was selected to yield high levels of digestible starch, and effective and digestible fiber. It would have good disease resistance to boost crop security , and the total plant would dry down slowly to extend its ideal harvest window. its soft kernels would break up into small particles during harvest to accelerate starch softening in the silo and shorten the storage period before feeding. These kernels would be easy for the cow to further break-up in her mouth, releasing more starch energy for digestion in the rumen – where it matter most for mil production.
Leafy silage hybrids have all of these characteristics. They are designed to be silage-specific and are selected for high dependable yields of digestible forage and starch. Today’s dairy operators no longer need the option of a dual-purpose on many of their acres. Instead, they need more acres of the best silage hybrids – ones that have strong silage yields and produce milk economically.
Dual-purpose hybrids have been bred to accommodate the commercial grain system. They have stiff stalks for late season harvest and hard durable kernels that stay intact during combining, elevating and shipping. Their kernels are fast-drying to save on drying costs. None of these characteristics are ideal for milk production.
There are several drawbacks to planting a grain-bred, dual-purpose hybrid for silage. As the plant reaches silage maturity, the kernels dry rapidly and get very hard. This means that while the kernels may have a higher starch test weight, the starch does not break-up easily and is less available for digestion. Also, the speed of kernel drying shortens the harvest window. When the kernels reach a silage appropriate moisture, the plants are far too green and wet to put in the bunker. What’s the suggested solution to these problems? Harvest it at optimal whole-plant moisture, process the silage to break-up some of the hard starch and let it sit in the bunker for four to six months to let the silage acids make the starch more available. But this brings a whole new set of problems. Processing the silage reduces the effective fiber, and storing silage for long periods results in dry matter loss. What’s the real solution?
Use a plant that has been designed from the beginning to be used exclusively for silage. Plant a Leafy Silage Hybrid!