Don’t try to stretch silage inventories by feeding spoiled, moldy or heated silage to dairy cattle, says Neil Broadwater, University of Minnesota Extension dairy educator. Feeding spoiled silage even at only 5% of total ration dry matter reduces intake and, compromises nutrient digestibility.

Spoiled silage can partially or totally destroy the forage mat in the rumen, making cows more susceptible to metabolic disorders, displaced abomasums and hoof problems, reducing milk production. It also costs money to replace lost energy and protein in the ration to compensate for the poorer quality. Feeding spoiled silage to dry cows and young heifers can negatively affect their fertility and reproductive efficiency, too.

Broadwater recommends keeping feed bunks clean of decaying feed. Don’t compromise the quality of the TMR by incorporating spoiled silage. Once the silo is opened, manage the exposed face to limit the time silage is exposed to oxygen. Match the face size to the daily removal rate and maintain a clean, vertical face to stay ahead of aerobic spoilage.

”Maintaining the high-quality silage you’ve already worked hard to put in storage can be a challenge. But with good management, time and effort, preserving that high quality will minimize spoilage and give better animal performance and health,” he says.