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 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Does Processing Corn Silage Pay?

Dairy Pipeline: November 1997

by Charles C. Stallings
Extension Dairy Scientist, Nutrition
Virginia Tech

There is currently much interest in the processing (rolling) of corn silage in order to increase kernel digestibility. Researchers at Washington State University with physiologically mature corn plant that had hard kernels have demonstrated increased digestibility and improved milk yields. Does it work with typical corn plant harvested at earlier stages? Joe Harrison and Lynn Johnson reported in Dairy News, a Washington State University publication, that cows receiving hard dough (before denting) corn silage produced 1.3 lbs. more milk when silage was processed. Milk from cows fed corn silage harvested at 1/3 milk line was 2.6 lbs. greater. Assuming milk at $.13/lb., this results in $6,169 more income per 100 cows per year with hard dough and $12,337 with 1/3 milk line corn. This also assumes that cows will continue to milk throughout lactation at this difference. This may not be true, but extra energy would be available for body condition replenishment and would not be wasted unless cows were over conditioned. New equipment to process whole corn plant can be expensive, but when ungrading it is worth considering. It appears the payback can be relatively fast. Certainly if payback can be achieved in 1 to 3 years it is worth considering.

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