Ask the Silage Dr: Does Starch Digestibility Change During Ensiling?

Q. How does the digestibility of silage change during ensiling?

A. Specifically, fresh silage may have lower starch digestibility — especially when harvested above 35 percent dry matter (DM). Conversely, silage allowed to ensile for at least four months becomes more digestible.

This is because the bacterial activity continues even after fermentation reaches the stable phase for whole-plant corn silage. 

The Silage Doctor recommends allowing silage to ensile for at least four months before feeding. With the additional weeks in storage, the ensiling process has more time to break down proteins that form a matrix with starch. Using a research-proven silage inoculant containing enzymes also helps break down plant fiber, which aids in both fermentation and digestibility.

When opening new silage, change over gradually over a two- or four-week period. During this time, it’s important to test new forages for DM, kernel processing score and nutrient content. Adjust the ration as necessary.

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