Forages are the backbone of every dairy ration and it is critical that the forages be of the highest quality to ensure proper intakes, good health, and performance of the dairy cow. Approximately 50 to 60 percent of the dairy ration is forage and home grown forage is fed for several months and has a tremendous impact on the economics of the feeding program. Research has suggested that many of the weekly variations observed in a high producing dairy is related to minor changes in forage quality and that high producing cows are more sensitive to changes in NDF (fiber) digestibility than low producing cows.
A forage program should be designed to identify the purpose of the forage in the ration and managing the forage program to make the best quality forage/silage possible. It has been said that it costs just as much to transport and store poor forage as it does good forage.
The outcome of forage quality can be dramatically altered depending on the type, quality, speed and efficiency of the fermentation process. The forage fermentation process is one where naturally occurring lactic acid producing bacteria utilize sugars within the forage, converting that sugar to lactic acid which in turn reduces the pH in an enclosed silage storage system. Eventually the pH drops enough to preserve the forage and allow its storage over long periods of time giving us the ability to feed the silage throughout the year. However, think of the fermentation process as a war zone with both good bacteria and bad microorganisms such as clostridia, yeast and mold, as well as oxygen. Also, more nutrients are lost in the forage the longer that fermentation occurs.
Using a Chr Hansen silage inoculant increases the rate of fermentation by adding more of the beneficial lactic acid producing bacteria. This means that the silage becomes stable sooner without the loss of extra nutrients that the cow could be utilizing at feed out for milk production. Research has shown that fermentation losses can account for 5% loss and aerobic stability can account for up to 10% loss in the silo.
Chr. Hansen has taken silage technology a step further by focusing on the functionality of the inoculant and matching it to the composition of the crop as well as the goals of the producers. The SiloSolve brand of inoculants offer products that fulfill specific needs. For example,Silosolve FC is the only buchneri containing inoculant on the market the offers a very effective bacteria in oxygen scavenging that results in the ability to early open feeds while effectively improving aerobic stability after feedout.
Research with each of the Silosolve inoculants has shown increased speed of fermentation, dry matter loss reduction of 3 to 5%, reduction in molds and yeasts, and in some cases, improved milk production, etc. Each of these factors results in a better quality forage and better performance in the dairy cow.