Dry matter (DM) losses can be significantly reduced in drive-over piles when properly covered and sealed. In fact, efficiently covering and sealing silage can return more than 10% in improved silage DM recovery in the top 3 feet of a pile or bunker.
To get the most out of your investment, here are four rules to follow when covering and sealing a silage drive-over pile:
- Use plastic that is at least 5 mm thick, and don’t skimp on quality. The cost of plastic is trivial in comparison to its importance to silage quality and dry matter recovery.
- Choose validated oxygen barrier plastics, which are effective for further reducing surface spoilage but must be covered with a regular top sheet or tarp to protect from UV and other damage. Thick, dual-layer plastic that is black inside and white outside resists deterioration well.
- Cover the entire pile, including all slopes. Overlap the plastic at seams by at least 4 feet to prevent air or moisture ingress. There should be a similar overlap allowed where the plastic meets the ground.
- All plastic covers need to be weighted down properly with tires, including the overlap on the ground, to minimize air ingress.
Silage quality can deteriorate rapidly during feedout as the exposed silage surface is open to air and the elements for long periods of time. In the presence of oxygen, aerobic microorganisms remain active. Specifically, yeast cells that were dormant in the anaerobic environment can become active. This growth of yeast is the primary cause of silage heating, causing significant DM and nutrient losses at feedout.
Silage inoculated with Lactobacillus buchneri 40788 will be more resistant to heating and spoilage by inhibiting the yeast populations, the initiators of aerobic deterioration. L. buchneri 40788 applied at 400,000 CFU per gram of silage or 600,000 CFU per gram of high-moisture corn (HMC), has been uniquely reviewed by the FDA and allowed to claim improved aerobic stability.
Additional detail on covering and sealing drive-over piles is available in a five-minute video available from Lallemand Animal Nutrition. The free video is available at https://www.youtube.com/user/LallemandAnimalNutri.