"Benefits to storing forages by cutting date or hybrid type include better forage quality through improved fermentation and the option to target peak lactation cow groups to receive the highest quality forage," suggests Dr. Shane Fredin in the most recent Farm Report from the W.H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute.

Where newly chopped forage must be stored on top of previously harvested material, the removal of plastic will result in a secondary aerobic fermentation of the top layer of forage. This may lower forage quality, result in further dry matter loss, and compromise silage stability. Fredin also indicates that it's easy to contaminate an otherwise high-quality forage crop with poorer quality forage during the packing process.

Perhaps the most compelling reason to segregate forage crops by quality is to offer the nutritionist the option to target the highest quality forages to cow groups that will benefit most from their ration inclusion. By doing so, the need to purchase additional feed ingredients or supplements to meet nutrient demands is reduced or eliminated.

Fredin cites an example from the Miner Institute farm where both BMR and conventional corn hybrids are grown. Between the two types of hybrids, extreme differences in NDF, lignin and starch percentages exist. To capitalize on the higher quality BMR corn silage for the high-producing cow group, the farm stores the material separate from the conventional silage.