The corn silage portion of the milking ration at Vreba Hoff Dairy 2, Hudson, MI, is about one-third brown midrib (BMR) corn and two-thirds conventional silage hybrids. Herdsman Matt Bowen says the enhanced digestibility of BMR silage provides two benefits.
“We're obviously utilizing that to increase milk production, but at the same time save a little money on energy costs,” says Bowen. “When we plug that in, we don't have to put as much corn in.”
A BMR silage sample entered by Vreba Hoff Dairy 2 placed eighth in its class of the 2008 World's Forage Analysis Superbowl. But a conventional silage hybrid from the dairy won the overall championship in the forage quality contest, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year.
The winning sample, from the 2007 corn crop, tested 37.4% starch, 34% NDF and 68% NDF digestibility, and produced 3,754 lbs of milk per ton. It was made from Mycogen 2Q716, a 110-day Roundup Ready silage hybrid that also has Herculex insect protection.
The corn was grown and ensiled by Great Lakes Ag, the crop production arm of Vreba Hoff Dairy, which has a total of 6,300 cows at three locations. Dairy 2 milks about 2,500 cows, currently averaging 27,000 lbs of milk/cow, and also houses dry cows for all three herds, Bowen reports.
Run by Dick Maat and his son, Jeroen, Great Lakes Ag grows 6,000 acres of silage corn, 725 of which are planted to BMR hybrids. Jeroen Maat says the conventional hybrids are grown at 34,000 plants/acre; the BMR hybrids, at about 32,000. Grown on dryland, conventional hybrids yield about 18 tons of silage per acre. Irrigated BMR hybrids yield slightly less.
“The yield of BMR is usually lower, but because we put it under center pivot, the tonnage comes close to what we get from conventional corn,” says Maat.
Ample water also seems to strengthen stalks, so standability hasn't been an issue in the low-lignin hybrids, he adds.
All the corn is chopped at 32-34% dry matter and stored in bunkers.
“We do a lot of packing and we separate the BMR corn from the conventional corn,” says Maat.
When Vreba Hoff Dairy 2 was named overall Superbowl champion, Stardust Dairy, South Solon, OH, became winner of the standard dairy corn silage (non-BMR) class. Its sample of Mycogen TMF 2Q759 tested 35.8% starch, 34.5% NDF and 60% NDF digestibility. Second place went to Wezbra Dairy Farm, Continental, OH; third place, to Elam Zimmerman, Martinsburg, PA.
The BMR corn silage grand champion was Spring Prairie Colony, Hawley, MN, with a sample of Mycogen F2F 485 that tested 38.6% starch, 37.6% NDF and 67.5% NDF digestibility. Second place went to Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI; third, to Jake Tanis, Centre Hall, PA.
Brent and Louann Gjermo, Deerfield, WI, won the dairy haylage class, their entry testing 22.8% crude protein, 21.5% ADF and 26.4% NDF. Ron Wussow, Cecil, WI, and Chase Holschbach, Baraboo, WI, placed second and third, respectively.
Karl and Barb Wogsland, Scandinavia, WI, took first place in the dairy hay class for the sixth time since 1996, when they won the overall contest championship. They finished second in the class the past two years. This year's Wogsland entry tested 24.8% crude protein, 21.2% ADF and 22.1% NDF. David and Donald Schlies, Denmark, WI, placed second; Phil Welter, Whitewater, WI, took third.
A fourth-cutting alfalfa sample that tested 23.9% crude protein, 18.1% ADF and 20% NDF won the commercial hay championship for Kellie Hinman, Wheatland, WY. Hinman placed third in the class in 2007. Frequent finalist Paul Peterson, American Fork, UT, and Schlenker Ranch, Meeteetse, WY, finished second and third, respectively.
Kendall Guither, Walnut, IL, won the commercial baleage class for the second year in a row, followed by Gary Jungerberg, Augusta, WI, in second place, and Keith Speltz, Altura, MN, in third. Guither's baleage tested 25.6% crude protein, 21.8% ADF and 24.7% NDF.
Packard Farms, Clare, MI, was named grand champion first-time entrant.
Organizing partners for this year's event were AgSource Co-operative Services, DairyBusiness Communications, Hay & Forage Grower, U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, University of Wisconsin College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and World Dairy Expo.