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Ammoniation can be used when storing damp hay or to improve the feeding value of low-quality forages. Ammonia NH3 , which contains nitrogen, increases the protein content of low-quality feed. It further increases the feeding value by assisting in the breakdown of the poorly digested lignin fraction of mature forages. In addition, ammonia acts as a preservative, allowing forages to be safely harvested at higher moisture levels.

Bacteria and moulds are destroyed during the ammoniation process, preventing overheating. This results in a safer and more palatable end-product, with less destruction of plant nutrients during storage. It also reduces field harvesting losses and is less weather dependent. For a description of the ammoniation process and the safety precautions required, refer to Manitoba Agriculture and Food fact sheet Ammoniation of Forages. Page Content. Harvesting and Storage of Quality Hay and Silage High-quality forage is the key to reducing feed costs.

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Forages are ready for harvest!

Stage of Growth One of the most important factors affecting forage quality is the state of maturity at cutting. Handling and Leaf Loss The feeding value of leaves is considerably higher than that of stems. Rapid Dry-down of Hay Large losses in feeding value may result when hay is exposed to weather. Weigh an empty paper plate. Example weight: grams Place forage sample on plate — approximately grams — and record combined weight. Example: grams place plate and subsample in microwave oven with a cup of water microwave on high for three minutes remove plate and sample, and re-weigh, recording the weight place sample back in oven, and microwave on high for one minute continue heating sample for one minute intervals and re-weighing until sample stops losing weight.


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Alfalfa Medicago sativa L. Conservation of forage surpluses is therefore necessary; but, due to summer rains, haymaking is risky and hence silage making becomes the best option. Nonetheless, ensiling alfalfa forage is difficult because of its low content of water-soluble carbohydrates and high buffering capacity, which delay the lactic acid production and therefore hinder a rapid decline of pH within the ensiled forage [ 2 ].

Technical alternatives for ensiling alfalfa forage are to harvest in afternoon hours [ 3 ], wilting [ 4 ] and the use of lactic acid bacteria LAB homo- and heterofermentative inoculants with enzymes [ 5 ].

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Cutting in the afternoon and wilting increased dry matter DM and alcohol soluble carbohydrates ASC concentration in alfalfa, which led to silage with improved conservation attributes such as lower pH, greater concentrations of lactate, lower concentrations of volatile fatty acids and NH3—N [ 3 ]. However, the effect of wilting largely depends on weather conditions, since events of rain during wilting, together with poor drying conditions low potential evapotranspiration may lead to considerable rise in pH and losses of sugars, causing worse silage fermentation [ 4 ].

The use of inoculants consisting of homofermentative bacteria hastened the drop of pH during the fermentation but did not improve the aerobic stability of the silage [ 6 ]. Such result is consistent with [ 7 ], who reported that inoculants based on homofermentative lactic acid bacteria did not improve aerobic stability in about two thirds of the cases; on the contrary, inoculant based on the heterolactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus buchneri increases the aerobic stability of silages mainly due to a rise in the concentration of acetic acid.

Relative Feed Value (RFV)

Aerobic stability is defined as the length of time that silage remains cool and does not spoil after it is exposed to air [ 7 ]. Since silage making relies on keeping anaerobic conditions, once the silo is open in the feeding phase and hence the silage is exposed to oxygen, it becomes liable to oxidation by the coming into action of dormant aerobic bacteria, yeasts and molds, which will be producing CO 2 [ 8 ], leading to rises in temperature and pH [ 7 ].

The fermentation and storage phases are dominated by anaerobic processes; as a result, silage contains yeasts, molds and some aerobic bacteria which are dormant under these anaerobic conditions. Introduction of oxygen, by deterioration of the sealing or opening the silo for the feeding phase, activates these aerobic microorganisms whose respiration consumes valuable nutrients, producing carbon dioxide and water with loss of dry matter and nutrients and decay of the silage [ 7 ].

Based on the above stated, this study was aimed at assessing during the rainy season, in three different months different short-term weather conditions the effect of hour at harvest, wilting and use of a mixed inoculant on quality properties of freshly cut forage from a mixed alfalfa and orchard grass Dactylis glomerata L.

Forage from a 2-year old alfalfa-orchard grass mixed grassland 0. The experiment comprised three phases phase 1: June—July, phase 2: August, phase 3: September in which 12 treatments were evaluated with two replicates in each phase.

Harvesting and Storage of Quality Hay and Silage

During mincing the forage was covered with a polyethylene film to avoid dehydration and contamination. For the compaction of the forage a structure was designed consisting of two vertical concrete cylinders of 0. Once each container was filled, the lid was placed and sealed with adhesive tape and secured with the strap.

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There were no clear differences among phases with on average 0. In the forage to be ensiled samples were taken to measure botanical composition, and DM content, temperature, pH, ASC alcohol soluble carbohydrates , and buffering capacity. Botanical and morphological composition of forage was estimated by means of hand separation. The temperature was measured at the beginning, middle and end of the container filling process. The buffer capacity of the fresh forage was determined in 2.

The measurements made in the silage comprised the following variables: i temperature, pH and ASC content, such as in fresh forage, ii aerobic deterioration, iii crude protein content CP and neutral detergent fiber NDF , iv rate of ruminal fermentation and in vitro disappearance of DM, and v NH3-N content.

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Likewise, samples were taken to which the ASC content was determined with the same procedure used in fresh forage samples. The aerobic deterioration of the silage was estimated with measurements of temperature and CO2 production. The ruminal fermentation of silage samples was estimated using the gas production technique [ 14 ] with three replicates per sample. The total gas production was estimated and once the incubation period was over, the residue was filtered and dried, which was considered as the residual DM. The average pH of the fresh forage was 6.

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The forage cut at Means pH and ammoniacal nitrogen of silages alfalfa and orchard grass cut at two different hours, with or without addition of bacterial inoculant, in three distinct experimental phases. Additionally, it places added stress on machinery parts and the human component when breakdowns further delay harvest. This overemphasis on particle size reduction can overshadow the objective of putting silage up at the correct moisture. If the process slows too much, and the moisture window is missed, the costs are reflected in not only reduced efficiency and economics, but also reduced starch availability due to suboptimal fermentation.

It is important to keep in mind that the KP score was a laboratory test developed for fermented rather than fresh silage. There appears to be significant interactions with KP score and both whole plant and kernel moistures. Fine particulate starch, clinging to the stover fraction in wet corn silage, may exert negative influences on the KP score, yet biologically has no adverse effects on ruminal digestion.

Recent conversations with Randy Shaver University of Wisconsin , Luis Ferraretto University of Florida , and other key field staff would suggest a fresh KP score of 60 or better should meet the objective of adequate particle size reduction while still achieving the end goal. Similar to other tests, multiple samples need to be taken to determine a true KP score. In summary, define key goals and objectives to optimize harvest results. Keep the end goal within the goal posts and make sure all key objectives are met.

This will help ensure a profitable and efficient corn silage harvest. Not a subscriber? Click to get the print magazine. Corn silage harvest is a complex system. By Chris Wacek-Driver. Event "blur" ;n.