With the recent weather, the chances of flooded forages are real. This article explains what can be done to minimize the detrimental effects of all the rain. Flooded forages will have a high amount of minerals due to the silt from flooded rivers and brooks. The higher the mineral content of the forage the more difficult it will be to ferment.
Harvesting corn for silage-
I would recommend harvesting the crop higher than usual, about 18 inches. This will reduce the amount of mineral which would likely be at the base of the plant. Also, a lower percentage of stalk and a greater percentage of the ear will make the fermentation reaction occur easier (minerals buffer the pH drop needed for fermentation). I would highly recommend an inoculant to aid in the fermentation process. Consider the rule of 800, This is equivalent to the tractor weight divided by 800 which will equal the tons of feed per hour that the tractor can handle to ensure adequate density.
Example: 6,000 pound tractor plus weights / 800 = 7.5 tons per hour filling rate.
I suggest adding salt to the top of the bunker to reduce spoilage, typically 50 pounds per 145 square yards. Use plain white salt followed by covering with an oxygen barrier silage cover and then plastic. These will reduce spoilage of the silage.
Harvesting grasses and legumes for silage-
Similar to corn silage, I suggest using an inoculant. However, increasing the height of the cutter bar is not practical in this situation. Follow the rule of 800 as listed above along with the packing method described for corn.
Managing and Feeding-
1) All cattle should be vaccinated against Clostridium perfringens. This bacteria is prolific in soil and can result in enterotoxemia (overeating disease). Cows will succumb to this disease very quickly, the prognosis is dire, and soil contaminated forage (flooded) can be a likely source. Follow the vaccination directions as prescribed.
2) Molds and mycotoxins will be at a higher risk this year. Therefore, all cows and heifers should be fed a mycotoxin binder because poor fermentation can result in poor performance. Mycotoxins can affect production due to their ability to destroy rumen bacteria. In extreme cases, cows can abort or have a difficult time becoming safe in calf. A greater dose of binder may be needed if forage tests high for mycotoxins this year.
If you have questions regarding feeding these forages, please contact:
Dr. Pete Erickson (603) 862-1909
Dr. Sarah Allen (603) 825-5509