Moisture Concentration Variation of Silages Produced on Commercial Farms in the South-Central USA

  • Han, K.J. (Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, School of Plant, Environmental, and Soil Sciences) ;
  • Pitman, W.D. (Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Hill Farm Research Station) ;
  • Chapple, A. (Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Dept. of Experimental Statistics)
  • Received : 2014.02.11
  • Accepted : 2014.04.14
  • Published : 2014.10.01


Preservation of forage crops as silage offers opportunity to avoid the high risk of rain-damaged hay in the humid south-central USA. Recent developments with baled silage or baleage make silage a less expensive option than typical chopped silage. Silage has been important in the region primarily for dairy production, but baleage has become an option for the more extensive beef cattle industry in the region. Silage samples submitted to the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center Forage Quality Lab from 2006 through 2013 were assessed for dry matter (DM) and forage nutritive characteristics of chopped silage and baleage of the different forage types from commercial farms primarily in Louisiana and Mississippi. Of the 1,308 silage samples submitted, 1,065 were annual ryegrass (AR) with small grains (SG), the warm-season annual (WA) grasses, sorghums and pearl millet, and the warm-season perennial (WP) grasses, bermudagrass and bahiagrass, providing the remaining samples. Concentration of DM was used to indicate an effective ensiling opportunity, and AR silage was more frequently within the target DM range than was the WA forage group. The AR samples also indicated a high-quality forage with average crude protein (CP) of 130 g/kg and total digestible nutrient (TDN) near 600 g/kg. The cooler winter weather at harvest apparently complicated harvest of SG silage with chopped SG silage lower in both CP and TDN (104 and 553 g/kg, respectively) than either AR silage or baleage of SG (137 and 624 g/kg for CP and TDN, respectively). The hot, humid summer weather along with large stems and large forage quantities of the WA grasses and the inherently higher fiber concentration of WP grasses at harvest stage indicate that preservation of these forage types as silage will be challenging, although successful commercial silage samples of each forage type and preservation approach were included among samples of silages produced in the region.



  1. Bates, D. B., W. E. Kunkle, C. G. Chambliss, and R. P. Cromwell. 1989. Effect of dry matter and additives on bermudagrass and rhizome peanut round bale silage. J. Prod. Agric. 2:91-96.
  2. Bremner, J. M. and G. A. Breitenbeck. 1983. A simple method for determination of ammonium in semimicro-Kjeldahl analysis of soils and plant materials using a block digester. Commun. Soil Sci Plant Anal. 14:905-913.
  3. Collins, M. and V. N. Owens. 2003. Preservation of forage as hay and silage. In: Forages: An Introduction to Grassland Agriculture (Eds. R. F. Barnes et al.). Vol. 1. 6th Ed. Iowa State Press, Ames, IA, USA. pp. 443-471.
  4. Edmisten, K. L., J. T. Green Jr., J. P. Mueller, and J. C. Burns. 1998. Winter annaul small grain forage potential. I. Dry matter yield in relation to morphological characteristics of four small grain species at six growth stages. Commun. Soil Sci. Plant Anal. 29:867-879.
  5. Gordon, C. H., J. C. Derbyshire, W. C. Jacobson, and J. L. Humphrey. 1965. Effects of dry matter in low-moisture silage on preservation, acceptability, and feeding value for dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 48:1062-1068.
  6. Han, K. J., M. Collins, E. S. Vanzant, and C. T. Dougherty. 2004. Bale density and moisture effects on alfalfa round bale silage. Crop Sci. 44:914-919.
  7. Han, K. J., M. Collins, E. S. Vanzant, and C. T. Dougherty. 2006. Characteristics of baled silage made from first and second harvests of wilted and severely wilted forages. Grass Forage Sci. 61:22-31.
  8. Haigh, P. M. 1990. Effect of herbage water-soluble carbohydrate content and weather conditions at ensilage on the fermentation of grass silages made on commercial farms. Grass Forage Sci. 45:263-271.
  9. Henderson, A. R., J. M. Ewart, and G. M. Robertson. 1979. Studies on aerobic stability of commercial silage. J. Sci. Food Agric. 30:223-228.
  10. Hersom, M. and W. E. Kunkle. 2011. Harvesting, storing, and feeding forages as round bale silage. Publication No. AN145. University of Florida, IFAS Extension, Gainesville, Fl, USA.
  11. Huhnke, R. L., R. E. Muck, and M. E. Payton. 1997. Round bale silage storage losses of ryegrass and legume-grass forages. Appl. Eng. Agric.13:451-457.
  12. Juskiw, P. E., J. H. Helm, and D. F. Salmon. 2000. Forage yield and quality for monocrops and mixtures of small grain cereals. Crop Sci. 40:138-147.
  13. McCormick, M. 2013. Baled silage, uses for beef and dairy. In Proceedings of the 67th Southern Pasture and Forage Crop Improvement Conference. April 22-24, 2013; Tyler, TX, USA. pp. 12-15.
  14. McDonald, P. 1981. The Biochemistry of Silage. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, New Yourk, USA.
  15. Miller, W. J. and C. M. Clifton. 1965. Relation of dry matter content in ensiled material and other factors to nutrient losses by seepage. J. Dairy Sci. 48:917-923.
  16. Moisio, T. and M. Heikonen. 1994. Lactic acid fermentation in silage preserved with formic acid. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 47:107-124.
  17. Muck, R. E. and L. Kung, Jr. 2007. Silage production. pp. 617-633. In: Forages: the Science of Grassland Agriculture, Vol. II (Eds. R. F. Barnes, C. J. Nelson, K. J. Moore, and M. Collins). 6th ed. Blackwell Publishing, Ames, IA, USA.
  18. Muck, R. E. and K. J. Shinners. 2001. Conserved forage (silage and hay): progress and priorities. In Proc. XIX Int. Grassland Congr., February 11-21, 2001. Sao Pedro, Sao Paulo, Brazil. (verified 5 Dec. 2013).
  19. O'Brien, M., P. O. Kiely, P. D. Forristal, and H. T. Fuller. 2007. Visible fungal growth on baled grass silage during the winter feeding season in Ireland and silage characteristics associated with the occurrence of fungi. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 139:234-256.
  20. SAS Institute Inc. 2011. Base SAS 9.3 Procedure Guide: Statistical Procedures. SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA.
  21. Van Soest, P. J. 1982. Nutritional Ecology or the Ruminant. O&B Books, Inc., Corvallis, OR, USA.
  22. Van Soest, P. J. and J. B. Robertson. 1980. Systems of analysis for evaluating fibrous feeds. In: Proc. Int. Workshop Standardization Analytical Methodology for Feeds. Int. Development Res. Ctr., Ottawa, Canada; March 12-14, 1979. Unipub, New York, USA. pp. 49-60.