Research has not explained why corn silages differ in their susceptibility to aerobic deterioration at feedout, says Keith Bolsen, professor emeritus and forage management specialist with Kansas State University. Bolsen, however, offers several forage and silage management practices that contribute to having aerobically stable corn silage in bunker silos and drive-over piles. For a list of other problems and solutions in corn silage production, visit Corn Silage Troubleshooting Tips: Part 1 and Part 2.

Problem: Aerobically unstable corn silage during feedout.

Solutions:

  • Harvest at the correct kernel maturity, and especially not too mature.
  • Ensile at the proper dry matter content, also especially not too dry.
  • Don’t chop longer than ¾” theoretical length of cut (TLC) if the crop is processed or ½” TLC if not processed.
  • Achieve a minimum packing density of 15 lbs of dry matter per cubic foot.
  • Size bunkers and piles so 6-12” are removed per day in cold weather; 12-18” in warm weather.
  • Maintain a uniform progression across the face during feedout.
  • When using a front-end loader, scrape down the silage face or shear silage off the face with the side of the bucket while driving parallel to the face.
  • Always strive for a smooth, tight silage face; never jab the bucket into the face and lift.
  • For a very smooth and undisturbed face, use rotating face cutters mounted on arms of a power unit; use arm extensions or telescoping arms so the cutter can reach taller silage faces.
  • Keep corn silage in the commodity area only a few hours and never overnight.
  • Don’t leave silage-based rations in the feed bunk too long, especially in warm, humid weather.
  • If corn silage does heat, consider adding 2-4 lbs of buffered propionic acid per ton of ration.
  • If aerobic instability continues to be a problem, consider applying a bacterial inoculant containing Lactobacillus buchneri at the forage chopper.