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Making high-quality silage is about achieving the twin goals of rapid, efficient front-end fermentation and back-end stability during storage and feedout.

“It pays to focus on producing silage that is maximized both in terms of quantity and quality,” says Renato Schmidt, Ph.D., Forage Products Specialist, Lallemand Animal Nutrition. “Focusing on good silage management practices helps producers reduce dry matter losses and increase retention of important nutrients that contribute to robust growth and health.”

Even in the best situations, there are likely to be challenges simply due to variability in the crop or weather variations during harvest, time taken to bring the crop in and storage conditions. However, focusing on good management practices, including selecting the right inoculant, will help producers defend silage against challenges.

When producers review inoculant options, it’s important to look for evidence that a product that has been proven in the specific crop to be ensiled. Small grain silages, corn silages, haylages and high-moisture corn (HMC) face different ensiling challenges.

“Issues can also vary with the storage method used on the farm,” Dr. Schmidt says. “Bags, bales, bunkers and silos can all present different conditions for ensiling.”

Finally, producers should consider the specific challenges that occur year-to-year on their operation, such as:

・ Harvesting at high or low dry matter (DM)

・ Cloudy or overcast weather during cutting/wilting

・ Field diseases (molds, blights, etc.)

・ Hailed-on crops

・ Drought

・ Insect damage

・ Clostridial (black, smelly) silage

・ Low DM recovery (shrink issues)

・ Feed heating and spoilage issues

“The right inoculant choice can help overcome specific silage challenges on your operation,” Dr. Schmidt says.

Dr. Schmidt recommends producers choose an inoculant proven to help provide fast, efficient fermentation for low DM crops (<30 percent DM), crops harvested in cloudy conditions or where there is a history of clostridial issues or excessive shrink losses. Specifically, the lactic acid bacteria Pediococcus pentosaceus 12455 — fueled by sugars generated by high activity enzymes — is proven to promote a fast, efficient front-end fermentation.

If the crop has higher DM (35 percent or more), it may be prone to heating and spoilage during feedout, especially if it experienced drought stress, hail damage, insect damage or field disease. In these situations, Dr. Schmidt suggests combining P. pentosaceus 12455, enzymes and Lactobacillus buchneri 40788. This offers the benefits of both a fast, efficient fermentation and reducing heating and spoilage at feedout. In fact, the high dose rate L. buchneri 40788 has been reviewed by the FDA and allowed to claim efficacy in preventing the growth of yeasts and molds in silages and HMC.

“Combined with good management practices, the right inoculant can help add to your bottom line,” Dr. Schmidt says. “The best defense against silage losses is a good offense.”

Visit to select the silage challenges your operation experiences and suggest an inoculant that is right for you.