Silage made from a tillering brown midrib forage corn can replace up to 50% of the conventional corn silage and alfalfa hay in dairy rations without affecting feed intake, milk production or milk composition.

That’s according to researchers at Southern Illinois University, who evaluated MasterGraze from Masters Choice, Anna, IL. Recommended for use in double-crop situations, the corn is said to produce up to 5 tons/acre of high-quality dry matter in 60 days. It doesn’t produce fully developed ears, but each stalk has several secondary stalks that enhance yield.

At Southern Illinois, the crop was planted in mid-May and grew 6-8’ tall in 48-52 days, reports Chet Stuemke, dairy farm manager. He says it yielded 18 tons of silage per acre.

In the feeding trial, headed by Amer AbuGhazaleh, 16 Holstein cows in early to mid-lactation were divided into four groups and fed different diets for 21 days. Cows in the control group were fed a 60:40 forage-to-concentrate diet containing equal amounts of corn silage and alfalfa on a dry matter basis. For the treatment groups, MasterGraze silage replaced 16%, 33% and 50% of the other two forages.

Production of milk, milkfat and milk protein was similar among treatments. Feeding MasterGraze silage also had no impact on milk urea nitrogen levels, somatic cell counts or cow body weights and condition scores, say the researchers.