A survey of silage management practices on California dairies

J. M. Heguy, D. Meyer, Noelia Silva Del Rio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

The aim of the present study was to gather baseline information on corn silage-management practices to develop an outreach curriculum for dairy producers and growers. In spring 2013, dairy producers in the San Joaquin Valley (California) were surveyed on their silage-management practices. Response rate was 14.5% (n = 160) and herd size averaged 1,512 milking cows. Harvest date was set solely by the dairy producer (53.4%) or with the assistance of the crop manager, custom chopper, or nutritionist (23.3%). On some dairies (23.3%), the dairy producer delegated the harvest date decision. Most dairies (75.0%) estimated crop dry matter before harvest, and the preferred method was milk line evaluation. Dairy producers were mostly unfamiliar with harvest rate but the number [1 (35.9%), 2 (50.3%), or 3 to 5 (13.8%)] and size [6-row (17.7%), 8-row (67.3%), or 10-row (15.0%)] of choppers working simultaneously was reported. Most dairies used a single packing tractor (68.8%) and weighed every load of fresh chopped corn delivered to the silage pit (62%). During harvest, dry matter (66.9%), particle length (80.4%), and kernel processing (92.5%) were monitored. Most dairies completed filling their largest silage structure in less than 3 d (48.5%) or in 4 to 7 d (30.9%). Silage covering was completed no later than 72. h after structure completion in all dairies, and was often completed within 24. h (68.8%). Packed forage was covered as filled in 19.6% of dairies. Temporary covers were used on some dairies (51.0%), with filling durations of 1 to 60 d. When temporary covers were not used, structures were filled in no more than 15 d. After structure closure, silage feedout started in 1 to 3. wk (44.4%), 4 to 5. wk (31.4%), or 8 or more wk (24.2%). Future considerations included increasing the silage storage area (55.9%), increasing the number of packing tractors (37.0%), planting brown mid-rib varieties (34.4%), buying a defacer to remove silage (33.1%), and creating drive-over piles (32.6%). Survey results will serve to develop and disseminate targeted information on silage management practices at harvest, packing, covering, and feedout on California's San Joaquin Valley dairies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1649-1654
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Volume99
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

Keywords

  • California
  • Corn silage
  • Dairy
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics

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