Idaho dairies have come a long way in learning how to properly store corn silage, says Mireille Chahine, University of Idaho Extension dairy specialist.
"They understand that they need to pack corn silage with as high a density as they can and manage face management well. I've been in Idaho for six years, and I've seen a great improvement in corn silage quality since I started here. People understand how important it is to manage it well."
Because it's not financially practical to buy it, most Idaho dairymen decide to grow corn silage and buy their hay. "If they don't have good corn silage, they're stuck with it. They have the choice to find the best hay they can on the market, but they really need to make sure they're putting up good corn silage. Now we rarely see silage that is not covered and we see better-quality faces," she adds.
Chahine has one major concern, however. She's worried about the height of silage piles that many of the larger dairies – some with milking herds of 10,000-12,000 cows – are putting up. "We're having some safety issues with the silos being so high," she says. "We had someone pass away last year."
The worker had parked his truck too near a silage pile, and it collapsed on the truck with him inside, Chahine says.
"We sometimes take density samples, and I'm always praying or saying I won't do it anymore, because this can be very dangerous," she says.