If you are serious about making more milk from forage, do you really want some of the hard work and expense you’ve put into growing a nutritious forage maize crop go to waste?

Because it easily can in the clamp – and once losses occur, they’re irreversible.

In case you’re still not convinced, here are five reasons why you should preserve maize silage with a proven additive this season.

Maize can be a breeding ground for ‘bad bugs’

Dying or dead tissue in maize crops at harvest provides a haven for undesirable micro-organisms. As too does dirt and decomposing crop debris that accumulate in the plant’s leaf joints, while the stem base can be a ‘hot spot’ for mould spores.

These are in addition to maize diseases – such as eyespot and smut. And all these ‘bad bugs’ end up in the clamp, where some of them can play havoc with how well the silage is preserved.

The dry matter affects silage quantity and quality

Unfortunately, ‘bad bugs’ growing in the clamp don’t just ‘feed on’ the worst bits of the maize silage, such as the fibre. They take the best bits.

So, by allowing them to take hold, it’s not just dry matter (DM) that’s lost, but the more nutritious parts of the dry matter – the sugars and starches.

Worse still, fungal contamination can also make maize silage less palatable so cows reject it, and can cause problems with mycotoxins.

Maize can suffer invisible losses

Most of us are familiar with losses from yeasts and moulds growing in the silage in the presence of air, resulting in heating. But this is only part of the story.

Poor fermentation caused by the wrong types of bacteria in the clamp can also cause similar losses in dry matter – but these are invisible.

How dry matter can be lost from maize clamps

Between these two processes, typical maize dry matter losses can be around 15%. But they can be much higher – at 20% or even 30%.

To improve sustainability

Home-grown forage and silage are excellent sustainable feed sources.

By doing the best job of preserving maize silage, not only do you have potentially more silage available to feed but also potentially of better quality. This, in turn, means less reliance on bought-in concentrate, allowing financial savings, and can even reduce feed miles.

You can’t prevent ‘bad bugs’ growing on crops, but you can take better control of them at ensiling – using the beneficial bacteria in a proven additive to produce clamp conditions that stop them in their tracks.

Science-based preservation

Both of the main Volac additives recommended for maize – Ecocool and Double Action Ecocorn – include the same beneficial bacterial strain found in Ecosyl. So you know they are backed-up by science.

Ecocool is recommended widely for maize. Research has shown that treating with Ecocool cut yeast numbers and slashed total fresh weight maize silage losses (from poor fermentation and aerobic spoilage) by around a third.

Better still, Ecocool has kept silage removed from the clamp cool and stable for more than 10 days.

For more information on Ecocool, click here.