Strain differences between silage additives appear similar to producers simply because they contain the same genus/species information on the label (e.g. Lactobacillus plantarum). However, there are tremendous genetic differences between individual strains within a species. Many inoculant companies claim that all Lactobacillus plantarum are the same and paying more for Pioneer products is simply “paying for the Pioneer brand name”.
While product labels may read similarly, there are differences in bacterial strains just as there are differences in the milk production potential of Friesian and Hereford cattle (both of which have the zoological classification Bos Taurus).
When Pioneer® brand inoculants are applied correctly they provide 100,000,000 colony forming units (CFUs) per gram of fresh forage. This is consistent with industry standards and is the level shown to give the claimed benefits in Pioneer research.
Bacterial counts are not as significant as many competitors would have you believe because “activity” is just as important as “counts.” Products containing less competitive bacterial strains may need to be applied in higher amounts to achieve the same result as a quality product applying 100,000 CFUs per gram of fresh forage of a more competitive lactic-acid producing strain.
There are several reasons why competitor products could be sold more cheaply.
Pioneer® brand inoculants are all ISO 9001:2000 certified to assure our customers of our high quality control standards ... what it says on the Pioneer label is indeed in the package.
Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc.'s Forage Additive Research group consists of highly trained scientists and technical specialists dedicated solely to the science of silage making.
Their technical skills range from expertise in biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, analytical chemistry, microbiology and animal nutrition. Also, the Pioneer Livestock Nutrition Center in Polk City, Iowa is a silage and feeding research facility that is unique in the inoculant (and seed) industry.
There are more than 100 inoculant products on the market worldwide. It would be a tremendous financial drain to test against competitors because animal trials (the only true test) can cost upwards of $30,000 - $60,000 USD per trial. Undoubtedly, as soon as a comparison is made against one product, producers will want comparisons against yet another product.
When Pioneer releases new products, they have made the decision to make comparisons against control silage (without inoculant) and their current best product. Customers can then see the relative improvement in shrinkage, fermentation parameters (e.g. pH, ammonia nitrogen, volatile fatty acid (VFA) profiles) and animal performance against an untreated control.
One way for farmers to make product comparisons is to ask competitors for their animal data against an untreated control. Many competitors have no animal data (and often very little fermentation data as well) even against an untreated control.
Pioneer® brand inoculants:
The animal performance data generated under controlled, research conditions at the Pioneer Livestock Nutrition Centre or in university trials are difficult to replicate on-farm. This fact has helped generic, unresearched products claim that “they are just like Pioneer”.
When an animal is only consuming a few kilograms of drymatter of silage per day, it makes the additional animal performance difficult to observe in the vat, because the normal daily variation (e.g. 2-3 litres of milk/cow/day) created by several factors (such as fluctuations in pasture intake/quality and climatic changes), which can overshadow the improvements from using silage inoculants. That is why very controlled research situations such as the Pioneer Livestock Nutrition Centre or university trials are necessary to prove performance.
Pioneer strains improve the rate of nutrient digestion in the limited time they reside in the digestive tract of high-producing animals. Unfortunately, traditional forage analyses measures the quantity of a nutrient (such as fibre or protein) but do not measure the rate-of-digestion of these nutrients.