Evaluating your alfalfa stand for maximum ROI

Posted on March 1, 2024 in Forage Foundations
By Steve Murty, Vita Plus, forage products specialist | The same questions arise several times every spring.  "Will my alfalfa stands survive another season?  Will there be enough forage this coming year?"  A proactive approach to answering these questions begins in late fall after you have filled the silos, pumped the pits and seeded cover crops.

Use drone technology to accurately and precisely measure changes in silage volume

Posted on March 1, 2024 in Forage Foundations
By Michelle Chang-Der Bedrosian, Ph.D., Vita Plus, and Adam Durrin, Aurox | In the agricultural industry, efficient silage management is crucial for maintaining a steady and reliable supply of feed for feedstock.  One of the challenges in this process is accurately estimating shrink during storage.  Traditional methods of estimating these losses, such as measuring the density of the pile with a drill and probe and then measuring pile disappearance, can be time consuming and prone to errors.  However, with the advancements in drone technology, there is now a more efficient and precise solution.

Does feeding dry corn silage ‘corn-cern’ you?

Posted on November 29, 2023 in Forage Foundations
By Paulina Letelier, Ph.D., Vita plus | Many farms throughout the Midwest reported harvesting drier-than-ideal corn silage this season. Here are some strategies to get the most from these dry corn silages.

How much feed do you have in inventory?

Posted on August 22, 2023 in Forage Foundations
By Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus | Routine feed inventory assessments are critical for managing your livestock operations. We need to have enough feed (but not too much feed) and we also need to plan feed budgets based on what will be available. When Mother Nature interrupts normal harvest intentions, we need to measure inventories more frequently and discuss alternatives to fulfill the feed budget.

Extend forage inventories without losing milk or increasing costs

Posted on August 22, 2023 in Forage Foundations
By Wyatt Smith, Vita Plus | With much of the Midwest facing limited rainfall and dry conditions, expected forage yield and forage inventories are an area of concern.  Many producers have raised the question of how to best extend current forage inventories with the goal of minimal impact to milk output and feed costs.

Forage particle size recommendations that boost cow comfort

Posted on August 22, 2023 in Forage Foundations
By Rick Grant, William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute | Forage quality is an overlooked component of cow comfort. Forage particle size, NDF degradability, fragility and dietary forage percentage must allow the cow to consume feed within 3 to 5 hours per day. Too much forage fiber, poorly digested and/or coarsely chopped forage will extend eating time beyond 5 hours per day and probably limit dry matter intake (DMI).

What is that mold in my forage?

Posted on August 22, 2023 in Forage Foundations
By Erin Schwandt, Ph.D., and Paige Gott, Ph.D., dsm-firmenich | The presence of mold on grains and feed ingredients has been shown to negatively impact the nutritional value, impacting energy, vitamin and amino acid digestibility. Mold also can reduce feed palatability.

Silage pH: How low is low enough?

Posted on June 1, 2023 in Forage Foundations
By Cody McCary and Michelle Chang-Der Bedrosian, Ph.D., | Butyric fermentations occur in silages that are wet and have a high pH, which creates the ideal growth environment for Clostridia. A low pH is our best tool to combat clostridial fermentations, and the faster the pH can decrease the better.

Trial shows delayed sealing’s negative impact on forage quality

Posted on June 1, 2023 in Forage Foundations
By Michelle Chang-Der Bedrosian, Ph.D., Vita Plus | The initial phase of making silage is the aerobic phase and it is characterized by the presence of oxygen.  The aerobic phase begins when the plant is cut in the field and continues until the silo is sealed (either the plastic is laid on top of the silo or the bag silo is sealed) and oxygen is consumed by the upfront fermentation. 

Cover your ash

Posted on May 12, 2023 in Forage Foundations
By Luke Daninger, Ag Partners Coop | As we approach warmer temperatures and alfalfa greens up throughout the countryside, it is good to think about a key factor in alfalfa production: minimizing ash content during harvest. Main concerns of high ash content in forage include the fact that it has no energy value and that elevated soil contamination could potentially result in Clostidria being found in the silage.

7 things to think about when you get into new-crop corn silage

Posted on February 21, 2023 in Forage Foundations
By Keith Lesmeister, Ph.D., Vita Plus dairy specialist and Michelle Chang-Der Bedrosian, Ph.D., Vita Plus forage specialist | The silo was sealed well, the applicator was winterized, the chopper was cleaned and put away, and hopefully, the harvest crew finally caught up on some much-needed sleep.  Temperatures dropped and, hopefully, so did the silage pH.  Now it’s time to start feeding that corn silage.

Plant density for silage production

Posted on February 21, 2023 in Forage Foundations
By Luiz Ferraretto, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison | Forage needs vary vastly within and among dairies across years.  Implementation of practices targeting greater yields is key; however, finding the sweet spot between yield and nutritive value is no simple task, especially when producing silage with high fiber digestibility.

Right-sizing your feed pad

Posted on February 21, 2023 in Forage Foundations
By Jon Rasmussen, Vita Plus | While farms may “break the rules” of forage storage every now and then, the goal should always be to SAFELY store forages with nearly zero oxygen exposure.  If you find yourself frequently breaking the rules, it might be time to resize your feed pad.  Following are four rules to help you in the planning process.

Forage fragility impacts on ration fiber

Posted on February 21, 2023 in Forage Foundations
By Kassidy Buse, University of Nebraska | The quality and characteristics of forages can have direct impact on milk production and profits.  We typically focus on characteristics such as starch content, protein content and NDF digestibility as we include forages in rations.  But as the attributes of fiber and its fractions have continued to be explored, forage fragility has emerged as an area of interest.

Regional reports: Harvest 2022

Posted on November 18, 2022 in Forage Foundations
A long fall allowed for great harvest conditions across most of the upper Midwest.  Vita Plus consultants across the region recap the 2022 harvest.

11 tips for efficient corn silage harvest and storage

Posted on August 29, 2022 in Forage Foundations
By Steve Murty, Vita Plus forage specialist | Nutrients lost through forage shrink have a real cost to your dairy. Here are 11 tips to efficiently harvest, pack, and cover your corn silage to reduce shrink and add dollars to the bottom line.