“Nutritionists love to include corn silage in a ration,” says Mireille Chahine, Extension dairy specialist with the University of Idaho. Corn silage adds energy and increases milk production.

But, as with all good things, the amount of corn silage should be carefully balanced in the ration to prevent health problems such as lameness and acidosis, she says. “Some people do go overboard with it. The health of the cow should have first priority and I see some rations that are low in fiber. More people are pushing more corn silage into the ration and less hay. Everything should be a balance.”

According to Limin Kung, University of Delaware dairy nutritionist, there are several common factors that lead to acidosis in dairy cattle. They include:

  • Diets too high in fermentable carbohydrates.
  • Too high concentrate-to-forage ratios.
  • Too fast a switch from high-forage to high-concentrate.
  • Too fast a switch from silage to high levels of green-chop forage.
  • Low fiber content in diets.
  • Diets composed of very wet and highly fermented feeds.
  • Too finely chopped forage.
  • Overmixed TMRs, resulting in excess particle size reduction.
  • Mycotoxins.
How can you tell if your cows have acidosis? Common symptoms include:
  • Low milk fat test; < 3-3.3%.
  • Sore hooves; laminitis.
  • Cycling feed intake.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Liver abscesses.
  • Low rumen pH (< 5.8) in 30-50% of animals tested.
  • Limited cud chewing.
Read more on Feeding to Minimize Acidosis and Laminitis in Dairy Cattle.