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With the high cost of feed, managing your silage quality has never been more important. Along with good bunker management, inoculants can help preserve valuable nutrients.

“At the end of the day, you want to keep as many nutrients in the bunker as possible,” says Kyle Whitaker, Pioneer marketing manager, Global Forages,. “Harvest at the appropriate moisture, do a good job of packing, use a good form of cover, etc. Using the right inoculant is another good management practice.”

Inoculation is important to preserving quality

  1. Improved fermentation

The basic function of an inoculant is to provide a fast, more efficient fermentation of silage. Fast fermentation preserves silage. An inoculant helps livestock operators maintain a high level of quality.

Research shows crops have specific moulds and bacteria, causing them to ferment differently. Pioneer has a diverse line up of crop-specific inoculants to help with dry matter preservation. Each Pioneer® brand inoculant contains unique bacterial strains, just as each corn hybrid contains unique genetics. This helps prevent spoilage based on the crop’s unique fermentation process. Having crop-specific products makes a difference in performance whether it’s corn, lucerne or pasture silage.

“Growers put a lot of money into crops, and the last thing they want to do is lose money on fermentation,” Whitaker says. “We want them to get as much nutritional benefit as possible.”

  1. Greater aerobic stability

Some Pioneer inoculants also offer aerobic stability. Packing removes oxygen, which is the fuel moulds and bacteria use to grow and consume silage nutrients. At feedout, the face of the silage bunker is again exposed to oxygen. This starts the fermentation process all over. Certain Pioneer inoculants contain Lactobacillus Buchneri, a bacterium that keeps the silo face cool, slowing secondary fermentation.

Keeping silage stable in the bunk and maintaining aerobic stability on the back end can add up to improved palatability and feed consumption.

The latest generation of Pioneer inoculants produce an enzyme that helps break down fibre in the silage, making it more digestible. The enzyme breaks down the lignin in the stalk, helping cows digest and use more of the available nutrients.

By getting more from your silage, you can rely less on supplemental feed, resulting in cost savings.

  1. Nutritional gains

Inoculants also help limit the loss of important nutrients from the diet.

“You can lose some sugars, organic acids and maybe even some starch right from the beginning,” Robert Larmer, Pioneer dairy specialist points out. “On the front end, the dry matter you save is loaded with high-energy nutrients.”

By preserving these high-energy nutrients, you can increase the bite-for-bite value of your ensiled forage.

“The most valuable portion lost is that high-energy component,” notes Larmer. “Inoculants make it possible to preserve those parts better.”

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Revised: March 2017