Comparing handheld NIR meters on farm

Posted on May 19, 2022 in Forage Foundations
Dr. Michelle Chang-Der Bedrosian, Vita Plus – The phrase “trust, but verify” can describe the approach many producers take to new technology, including handheld NIR meters. Here are some tips to verify the technology’s accuracy on your farm.

How low starch digestibility will affect the summer milk slump

Posted on March 10, 2022 in Forage Foundations
By Wyatt Smith, Vita Plus dairy specialist Much of the Upper Midwest has noted lower-than-normal starch digestibility in this year’s corn crops. With warm weather only a few months away, we’ve started to question what impact this lower starch digestibility will have on the traditional summer milk slump. 

What can I grow in a notoriously wet field?

Posted on March 10, 2022 in Forage Foundations
By Ashley Blackburn, Vita Plus agronomy and forage specialist If you battle wet conditions in the same field year after year, you may consider planting an alternative crop to meet your farm’s forage needs.  Grasses can be a good fit in these conditions, but all grasses are not created equal.

Feed and forage inventory management goes to new heights

Posted on March 10, 2022 in Forage Foundations
By Dr. Matt Gabler, regional business manager New technology now provides us with a safe, easy, insightful, and accurate means to evaluate and measure feed and forage inventory and management.  Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – often referred to as drones - aren’t just for the military to protect our freedom; they are useful tools in maximizing operations in a wide variety of applications – including forage and feed management. 

Manage sorghum’s unique characteristics

Posted on March 10, 2022 in Forage Foundations
By Cody McCary, Vita Plus forage specialist Sorghum has proven useful as an alternative forage for many farms.  Here are some important items to consider when determining if sorghum may fit into your forage program.

Reduce spoilage at the feedbunk

Posted on March 10, 2022 in Forage Foundations
By Dr. Michelle Chang-Der Bedrosian, Vita Plus forage products and dairy technical service Laboratory analysis of yeast counts finds the majority of silages in the Midwest are undergoing active spoilage during the spring, summer and fall months.  However, when asked, most producers say they do not have a spoilage problem.  This hidden spoilage problem can be a major source of forage shrink and can also lead to decreased milk production, intakes, animal health, and farm profitability. 

Regional reports: 2021 harvest wrap-up across the Midwest

Posted on November 5, 2021 in Forage Foundations
Steve Murty, central Iowa Central Iowa saw many surprises this harvest season while maintaining a severe drought status.  Forage yields were excellent for the summer hay crops.  Many producers said this year’s soybean yields were the best yields ever.  Corn silage tons per acre were up over the previous couple years and harvesters were able

Relationships key to 45 years of custom harvesting

Posted on November 5, 2021 in Forage Foundations
With Bob Headrick, Dias & Fragoso forage consultant A 45-year career in one industry gives a person a lot of perspective. Bob Headrick wouldn't describe his career as a forage custom harvester in California as smooth or easy. Several parallels can be drawn between the hurdles he faced and the challenges of today’s farms and custom harvesters. For Headrick, good relationships were key to overcoming obstacles.

Looking at corn silage through the lens of true forage

Posted on November 4, 2021 in Forage Foundations
Forage – the foundation of a dairy cow’s diet – is heavily impacted by variations during the growing season.  The emerging concept of “true forage” can be a highly effective tool for both the nutritionist and dairy producer.

Corn silage: What happens while it sits in storage?

Posted on November 4, 2021 in Forage Foundations
“How long do we need to wait before we break into the new corn silage?” I get asked this question each fall. It is always a good idea to remember why we suggest the typical “wait periods” that we do.

Select the right corn maturity for your growing area

Posted on November 4, 2021 in Forage Foundations
By Ashley Blackburn, Vita Plus agronomy and forage specialist One of the most important decisions you make each year is what corn variety to plant. Corn hybrids can be classified using relative maturity or growing degree days (GDD or GDU). These systems can help you determine which hybrid best fits your farm and goals.

Regional reports: The state of forages across the Midwest

Posted on August 17, 2021 in Forage Foundations

Vita Plus consultants from Minnesota to Ohio share their observations of the 2021 growing season and what they anticipate for this year's corn silage harvest.

16 steps to cover silage piles

Posted on August 17, 2021 in Forage Foundations

By Andy Carlson, Vita Plus dairy specialist
The final step of harvest – and one of the most critical steps – is to effectively cover and seal our bunkers and piles to limit oxygen and protect forages.  We depend on bacteria to ferment and preserve forage, and virtually all these bacteria need a low-oxygen environment to efficiently do the job.  Here are some recommendations to help you cover forages safely, efficiently and effectively.

Packing density: Choose equipment to get the job done

Posted on August 17, 2021 in Forage Foundations

By Becky Arnold, Lallemand Animal Nutrition
In the previous article in this series, we discussed the value of achieving at least 15 pounds of dry matter per cubic foot as well as managing the packing process to achieve adequate compaction.  In this article, we will discuss dual-wheel tractors, track tractors, and pull-type roller packers, and their effects on silage density.  

Drought-stressed corn: Should you high-chop?

Posted on August 17, 2021 in Forage Foundations

By Dr. Michelle Chang-Der Bedrosian, Vita Plus forage products and dairy technical services
Due to the severity and timing of drought in parts of the Midwest, multiple conditions are occurring simultaneously: (1) The plant’s growth is stunted during the grain-fill stage, leading to low starch content, (2) dry conditions have led to plants that are at the right dry matter (DM) for harvesting, and (3) the bottoms of corn stalks are accumulating nitrates.  Evaluate your crop and forage inventories to determine if high-chopping is a wise choice for your farm.

It won’t be a good harvest if it’s not safe

Posted on August 17, 2021 in Forage Foundations

By Kyle McLain, Vita Plus dairy specialist
Forage quality and quantity are very important for feed efficiency and profitability. However, safety trumps all of that when it comes to harvesting, storing and feeding forages. Nothing is more important than you and your employees returning safely and soundly to your families after a successful corn silage season. Here are some safety tips to consider when harvesting, storing and feeding forages.