Feeding corn silage to beef cattle has a few distinct advantages. This diet can meet the requirements of beef cattle that have a low protein requirement. Forage can include straw and corn stalks. Ground corn stalks can provide 50% TDN, 5% crude protein, and 88% D.M., assisting in the mixing and delivery of silage. While beef cattle on this diet will have excess energy, they will not need extra protein or vitamin supplements. Moreover, this diet should perform well under typical weather conditions.
Grass content of mature corn silage
The energy content of corn silage is similar to that of other forages, such as grass, but it’s different in terms of animal type. For instance, a steer at maintenance intake will obtain more energy from corn silage than will a high-producing dairy cow. However, as corn silage grows in dry matter, its energy content decreases. This is due to the fact that many of the kernels in corn silage pass through the digestive tract undigested, reducing the starch digestibility. Furthermore, energy content in corn silage can vary between 0.64 and 0.75 mcal/lb NEL.
Mature corn silage contains a high percentage of grass. Its content is a reliable indicator of quality. However, it does not always correspond to its maturity. Some breeders will separate the stover from the grain. But this method is labor intensive and is not recommended if corn silage is less than half milkline maturity. This practice is not recommended, since it increases costs and waste, and the end result may be poor feed quality and reduced milk production.
There are a few ways to reduce Maillard browning when feeding corn silage for beef cattle. The first is to delay feeding corn silage until the moisture content is 70% or lower. Frosting, freezing, or advancing maturity can reduce moisture content. You can also use a microbial inoculant, specifically labeled for corn, in silage. The corn silage is less stable than hay crops when exposed to oxygen, so inoculating the silage may be beneficial. And, for increased bunk life, organic acids can be added at 10 to 20 pounds per ton.
Another method of controlling moisture content in corn silage is to measure the moisture content. In order to calculate the moisture content, you can subtract the target moisture level from the current level. Next, divide this figure by the average drydown rate of corn. If the target moisture content is 70 percent, it will take about eight to ten days to reach 65 percent. Similarly, you can determine whether the corn is mature by looking at the position of the kernel milk line. In the picture on the left, the kernels are less mature than the ear on the left. Corn silage’s nutrient composition changes as its maturity progresses.
Non-protein nitrogen (NPN) additives
The use of NPNs has gained wide acceptance as a feed supplement for beef cattle. The use of NPNs in cattle diets has been shown to improve LWG, FE, and profitability. The use of NPN sources also reduces the emission intensity of beef production. Non-protein nitrogen (NPN) additives in beef cattle feed have a high level of efficiency and can be used in several animal production processes.
NPN is most commonly found in urea. The concentration should be between 2.0 and 25 percent in the treatment solution. The correct concentration for beef cattle depends on the type of corn silage and its moisture content. In order to get the best results, the urea in corn silage should be fed at a 1.0-to-2.5-percent rate. In addition to NPN, urea can also add a significant amount of protein to the diet.
Storage of corn silage
Proper storage of corn silage for beef cattle is essential to preserving its quality and extending its shelf life. Silage is exposed to oxygen during the initial fermentation process and begins to rise in temperature. The resulting heat will impact the beef cattle’s performance and intake. To extend the shelf life of corn silage for beef cattle, remove six to 12 inches of the surface each day. For medium-sized operations, drive-over piles and trenches may be too wide.
The optimal packing density for silage is between 11 and 15 pounds per cubic foot. The higher the density, the faster it will ferment and create a more stable feed-stuff. While packing corn silage for beef cattle is a time-consuming process, it will yield better results in the long run. The goal of storage is to decrease oxygen content while promoting anaerobic fermentation. Proper packing density will help reduce gaps and allow the bacteria to switch from aerobic to anaerobic fermentation quickly. Incorrectly packed silage may lead to poor fermentation and a higher pH level, which is unhealthy for cattle.
Limit-feeding corn silage to meet energy requirement
Limit-feeding corn silage to beef cows during confinement is an appropriate feeding method when the animal is dry, pregnant, and at the beginning of its lactation. The energy requirement of growing heifers is 69% TDN, decreasing to 61% TDN by 12 months. However, the amount of corn silage fed to a cow at this stage of lactation is still large enough to result in a fat animal and fatty infiltration of the udder. Moreover, rationing corn silage to cows during confinement can lead to a disparity in body condition among cows in the group.
The diet formulation software for limit-feeding corn silage to beef cattle is not a replacement for actual feed bunk, but it can give the cattle the basic nutrients they need. Some limit-fed diets may have as low as 13% forage on DM basis. This is far below the 25% recommended value for cattle whose ration is designed to meet their energy requirement. Besides, corn silage is an excellent source of roughage, as long as it is properly managed to preserve its quality and use it before spoilage.