Corn Silage Basics

  • ​​Corn silage is an excellent source of energy and fiber for dairy and beef cows.
  • Growing, harvesting, and storing corn silage has a significant impact on the overall quantity and quality of the silage.
  • The dietary requirements of lactating dairy cows require that the highest quality silage be fed as compared to non-lactating dairy cows and beef cows.

Types of Silage Corn

Dual-purpose products: These products have a dual purpose, silage or grain production. Dual-purpose products have more flexibility for end use: grain production or high tonnage/high energy silage. Dual-purpose products tend to have wider adaptability because of the response to stress factors.

Brown mid-rib products: Brown midrib (BMR) is a natural occurring mutant corn that has reduced lignin within the plant. The lower lignin content allows greater digestibility and increased feed intake.1 In general, BMR corn silage may have the biggest impact on milk production for transition, early, and top producing lactating cows. Agronomically, BMR products tend to have lower yield potential (dry matter), less adaptability to stress environments, and lower disease tolerance. Starch content tends to be lower with BRM products.2

Leafy and floury-leafy products: Leafy products have more leaves above the ear that may increase digestibility. In general, leafy and floury-leafy products may have lower starch than dual-purpose products; however, the softer kernel is easily broken down during harvest and is more readily available in less time during the fermentation process. The whole plant drydown will also be slower, as the ear on these products is slower to drydown to the optimum moisture of 65%. As the product takes less time to reach optimum levels in the silo, it can be an effective bridge between silage production cycles. The final plant population that is recommended is 28,000 to 30,000 plants per acre.3​