Corn Silage Harvest Practices Impact Milk Production, Grain Fill, and Overall Profitability

  • Moisture of the corn plant determines the time to harvest.  Harvest at 62-65% moisture (35-38% DM) (Choppers without kernel processors should be harvested a little wetter– 32-35% DM to allow breakage of corn kernels.)
  • Healthy corn plants dry down 0.5-1.0%/day.
  • Corn is generally harvested 40-45 days post-tasseling.
  • Adjust rollers on kernel processors so that no more than 2 or 3 half or whole kernels of corn are found in a chopped sample contained in a 32 oz. cup.  Spacing between rollers should be such that a dime will not fit between the rollers.  Kernel processors do increase power requirements and thus diesel usage.  However, for each additional gallon of diesel at $6/gal. used, only 0.05 lbs of milk ($22/cwt) are needed to recoup additional fuel cost with 20 tons of corn silage/acre.  Extra diesel costs can very quickly be recouped from additional milk volume and thus income.
  • For bunkers and piles, pack the chopped silage with a tractor weighing 800 times the number of wet tons delivered per hour at a speed of 1.5-2.5 mph.
  • Cover top of uprights, piles, and bunkers with plastic.  For bunkers, line bunker sides with plastic with extra plastic overlapping the walls.  Once filled, use the extra plastic to cover part of the top closest to the walls to prevent water seeping under the top cover of plastic and causing spoilage.

~ Dairy News, July 2022