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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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Baleage;Chopped Silage;Commercial Farm;Nutritive Value;Silage Moisture

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