MISSOURI — Winter is around the corner and that means cattle producers are planning their winter feeding strategy.

However, this can be challenging with fluctuating hay prices and supplies from year to year. One possible solution is to incorporate corn silage into the feeding rotation to provide the nutrition the cattle need.

KMZU’s Dan Watson talked with David Hoffman, a University of Missouri Extension Field Specialist in Livestock, to learn about the nutritional benefits of corn silage as well as how to properly cut and store the silage for the long winter.

Click below to listen to their conversation, which aired Tuesday on KMZU.


Photo: Natural Resource Conservation Service – Kentucky

There are many positives to using corn silage as a source of cattle fodder, namely the volume and quality of the feed.

“Corn, it makes such an excellent source of silage for cattle feed because one it has a tremendous potential for yield,” Hoffman said, “and so a producer can produce a lot of feed for the cattle, but the main reason is its very high in energy, it produces a lot of nutrients for those livestock that is being fed and its very easily digestible.”

Due to the fact that silage consists of a complete plant, the energy content of corn silage is higher than hay or other types of forage. However, the crude protein level is slightly lower in silage than forage.

Corn must reach a certain stage of maturity prior to harvest. This helps to create a high quality silage for winter feeding.

“A lot of the stage of maturity is important on when we cut corn for silage. . .”, Hoffman explained, “. . .probably around the half-milk stage on that kernel of corn.”

Once the corn has been harvested, a producer must store it until winter when the silage has fermented. Two popular storage options are a bunker-type or upright silos.

Silos and their locations should be inspected prior to storage to ensure that they are in good condition.

“If they’re going to store it, and typically most of our silage is stored in a bunker-type silo, so we want to make sure that its in good repair, that its clean. . .if we’re going to do an upright, make sure everything is good there and then site preparation becomes important. One, finding the appropriate site that’s well drained, that’s of easy access to get to and so forth.”