Minimizing oxygen exposure to corn silage stored in bunkers is key to maintaining feed quality, says Chuck Schwartau, an educator with the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

“How feed is removed from a bunker can make a big difference in the final quality of feed offered to the cows,” says Schwartau. “If too much feed is exposed to air for a long time, heating occurs and feed quality drops in a hurry.”

Schwartau offers these tips:

  • Keep a smooth, tight face on the silage pack.

  • Don't drive the loader into the face and lift the whole face of the silage pack. It'll loosen it, allowing oxygen to enter.

  • Remove silage with minimal damage to the silage surface. Scrape the silo face downward, always cleaning up loose feed; scrape perpendicular to the silo face; and break only small sections of silage out of the face at any one time.

  • Remove three days worth of cover (usually tires and plastic) at a time.

  • Remove at least 5" of silage per day.

“To make these strategies work, it's necessary to have a well-packed bunker. The bunker also needs to be the right size in width and height to fit the herd.”