Q. Does silage “expire”? How long will quality corn silage remain usable and rich in nutrients?
A. Personally, I have seen silage keep well for three years if it’s maintained in excellent condition. With an extended ensiling period, you’ll want to have all the components of quality silage management in place. This means correctly harvesting, filling, packing and storing the forage.
First, you’ll need to harvest high-quality starting material using good harvest management to optimize dry matter (DM) and minimize yeast and mold levels on the crop. Be sure to harvest at the optimal stage of maturity and chop at the correct length.
You’ll also want to consider using a research-proven forage inoculant that can help control fermentation and feed-out stability. An inoculant that contains both Pediococcus pentosaceus 12455 and Lactobacillus buchneri NCIMB 40788 helps drive a fast, efficient fermentation on the front end and reduce heating and spoilage on the back end. This would be a cost-effective investment for silage that you do intend to store for prolonged periods.
Next, be sure to rapidly fill the bunker or silo using optimal packing density — at the very least 15 lbs. DM per cubic foot. Quickly cover and seal it using a proven barrier plastic and a tarp weighted down with tires or gravel bags.
During the first 12 months, starch availability of corn silage will increase over time, which can affect animal performance. Prolonged storage is recommended due to its impact on digestible energy value. With these measures in place, there’s no reason you can’t have silage that retains nutrients and contributes to excellent performance.
I hope this information helps you maintain high-quality silage.
The Silage Dr.