Dairy producers must be diligent when collecting silage samples for testing, says Kurt Ruppel, a dairy production specialist with Pioneer Hi-Bred International.

“Even a small nutrient deficit or surplus in the diet can drastically affect milk production or feed efficiency and ultimately a producer's profitability,” says Ruppel. “That's why following certain silage sampling techniques to ensure an accurate analysis is so critical.”

In a bunker silo, move the unloader over the entire face as if feeding the silage normally. Then take samples from the TMR mixer.

Or, divide the exposed face into thirds and take samples near the top, middle and bottom of each section. Mix all nine samples together and take a subsample for testing.

In a tower silo, the unloader should run over the entire face. Take samples at the beginning, middle and end of unloading, and mix them.

Don't take samples from just-opened silos, or from the tops of unopened structures, he says.