Silage in a Ration

 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers

Knowledge Nuggets

  • Ensiling is an effective method of preserving feed with a minimum of nutrient loss. If ensiled properly the nutritive value is slightly less than the standing forage crop. Typically, lower field losses occur through ensiling than when haying.
  • Some carbohydrate is used to fuel the fermentation process resulting in slightly less energy in the silage compared to the original forage. In addition, 10 per cent or more of the protein could be degraded to non-protein nitrogen. The mineral content of silages is as high as in the original forage unless measurable amounts of seepage occurs.
  • For the first few days of feeding silage, consumption can be less but once animals become accustomed to the taste they find it quite palatable. Even when accustomed, animals will generally eat less dry matter of silage than when the same forage is fed in the fresh form or as good hay.
  • Animals will eat more dry matter from drier silage than from wetter silage. The reasons for this are not clear, but it is known that the extra water in the silage is not the explanation. Decreased intake of high moisture silage has been related to the various amines and ammonia produced when protein is degraded and to the formation of other organic compounds and acids.
  • Consumption of silage is increased by reducing the length of cut of the forage.
  • Since silage usually contains more than 50 per cent water animals have to consume more silage than hay to meet their nutrient requirements. To calculate the amounts of silage to be fed, the moisture content of the silage must be known.
  • Calves less than four months of age can receive most of their roughage needs through silage as long as they are receiving enough milk, grain, protein, mineral and vitamin supplements to meet their nutritional needs.
  • Growing calves from five to ten months of age can be fed silage as the major part of the ration. However they may need grain and other supplements to gain at desired rates.
  • Silage is a preferred fiber source in feedlot diets since it reduces the incidence of bloat and dust in the feed.
  • Silage can be fed as the only source of energy and protein to wintering cows. With good quality silage, limit the amount of silage fed and allow the cows to fill up on straw to reduce costs and to prevent the cows from getting too fat. In cold weather and at calving time, the amount of silage can be increased and grain can be added.
Fact Sheets

Feeding Silage: Quality and Feeding

Feeding Silage to Beef Cattle - available in pdf

Winter Feeding Programs for Beef Cows and Calves

Research Papers
Comparison of flail-harvested, precisionchopped and round-bale silages for growing beef cattle - available in PDF format only

Corn or soybean hull incorporation into haylage-based backgrounding diets: effect on growth and efficiency during the backgrounding and finishing phases -available in PDF format only
Send us your research papers on feeding silage and we will be happy to post them here!
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This document is maintained by Linda Hunt.
This information published to the web on May 18, 2006.
Last Reviewed/Revised on May 24, 2017.

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