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ArticleVolume Number July 11, 2019

Choosing the Best Inoculant for Forage Preservation

Comment choisir le bon inoculant pour la préservation des fourrages?
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Before choosing inoculants from the numerous products available on the market, take a look at the Four Basic Principles for using Forage Inoculants. The seven scenarios below can help you to make the best choice for your specific needs.

Note: These seven scenarios were taken and adapted from Choosing an Effective Silage Inoculant by Limin Kung, Jr.

Situation 1: Your silage is always fresh and you never or seldom have heating TMR issues in warm weather.

Type of forage inoculant to consider: Use an inoculant with homolactic bacteria.

Reasoning:  You can improve silage fermentation and gain 2 to 4 extra units of total dry matter by using an inoculant with homolactic bacteria.

Situation 2: A large bunker or pile silo with a face that may be too wide, which causes a slow feed out rate. 

Type of forage inoculant to consider: Use an inoculant with L. buchneri (with optional homolactic bacteria).

Reasoning: Silage treated with L. buchneri is more stable under the stress of aerobic exposure.

Situation 3: The silage in one silo will be used as winter feed, but the silage in the other will be used in the summer; the TMR could heat.

Type of forage inoculant to consider: For the winter silo, use an inoculant with homolactic bacteria. For the summer silo, use an inoculant with L. buchneri (with optional homolactic bacteria).

Reasoning: Silage used in the winter generally does not deteriorate as quickly when exposed to air, but could still benefit from an inoculant with homolactic bacteria. Silage used in the summer has a tendency to deteriorate quickly when exposed to air. Silage treated with L. buchneri is more stable in this situation.

Situation 4: Part of the silo contents is fed out in the winter (for example, at the top of a tower silo), whereas another part (for example, at the bottom of a tower silo) will be used in the summer.

Type of forage inoculant to consider: Treat the silage at the top with an inoculant with homolactic bacteria and the silage at the bottom with L. buchneri (with optional homolactic acid bacteria). Another option would be to treat the whole silo with an inoculant with L. buchneri + homolactic bacteria.

Reasoning: Same as scenario 3!

Situation 5: Grass/legume silage with relatively high moisture levels (moisture > 65 to 70% or less than 30 to 35% DM).

Type of inoculant: Consider using an inoculant made of homolactic bacteria.

Reasoning: Forages with high moisture content can favor the growth of Clostridia bacteria, produce butyric acid, and excessively degrade proteins. Inoculants with homolactic bacteria cause a rapid drop in pH and can inhibit the growth of Clostridia.

Situation 6: Alfalfa/grass silage harvested with relatively high dry matter levels (> 40% DM).

Type of inoculant to consider: Use an inoculant with L. buchneri (with optional homolactic bacteria).

Reasoning: Silages with a high DM are often more prone to aerobic changes than wetter silages. An inoculant that contains L. buchneri with homolactics can improve aerobic stability.

Situation 7: Silage in airtight storage structures.

Type of inoculant to consider: Use a homolactic acid based inoculant.

Reasoning: Even with limited oxygen, a homolactic acid based inoculant can still improve fermentation efficiency.

In conclusion

The use of silage inoculants cannot replace proper management practices. They can however be very useful for improving fermentation and storage life. Always determine your needs according to the plant, the silo and any other specific challenges, and then do your research to choose a proven inoculant for these conditions.

 

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