BOARD OF DIRECTORS:Greg Kerr-President, Fiver Falls; Doug Bastian-Vice President, Madison; Dan Undersander-Exec Secretary-Treasurer, Madison; Ken Barnett Wausau; Tom Braun Reedsville, Darell Christensen Brownsville, Robert Eder New London; Matt Hanson Jefferson, Jake Kaderly Monticello, Randy Knapp Chippewa Falls, Stuart Sorenson Bonduel, Ken Risler Mondovi, Scott Schultz Loyal, Paul Sedlacek Cadott; Ex-officio:Dennis Cosgrove River Falls and Keith Kelling Madison.



Volume 23, Number 4, December 1999


Come to The Annual Forage Council Symposium!



This Winter 99 issue of the Forager focuses mainly on our upcoming Symposium. The Wisconsin Forage Council Annual Symposium will be held January 25 and 26 at the Holiday Inn at the Dells. The Symposium is a two-day event focusing on all aspects of forage production This year's program includes several nationally recognized experts with the latest information on topics of interest to producers. Topics include information on bunkers andbags for haylage storage, the best time of day for alfalfa cutting, cost of production of forages, custom harvesting, potato leafhopper resistance rotational grazing, farming and urbanization and many other topics and activities.We will also have many exhibitors, door prizes and other activities.


The program also features a Forage Spokesperson and a Photo Contest on Wednesday. The spokesperson contest on Wednesday consists of farmers giving short presentations concerning the forage


aspect of their farming operation. The winner competes in the national spokesperson contest, which will be held in Madison this year.


On-site registration for the conference is $80.00 for Wisconsin Forage Council members, and $100 for non-members. This includes all sessions, meals, breaks and a copy of the conference proceedings. Single day registration and discounts for early registration are available. For more information, contact the Wisconsin Forage Council at 608-846-1825.


See more information on the Symposium

inside this issue of The Forager on pages 2 & 3.



We would like to thank Knowles Produce & Trading Co.

for Sponsoring This Issue of The Forager


More on The Annual Forage Council Symposium!





A portion of this yearís program will focus on the expanding use of bag and bunker-type silos for haylage storage. Each of these types of systems presents unique problems, and many producers have questions concerning the optimum management practices. Two nationally recognized experts with extensive experience concerning management of bunker silos and silage bags for haylage storage will be featured at the symposium.


The meeting will begin with Dr. Jim Dematteo, a consultant to dairies across the nation, who has worked with almost every kind of forage program imaginable.He will speak on producing the highest possible quality silage, and minimizing losses from silage bunkers and bags.Following him will be John Roach, a native Wisconsin consultant who assists farmers in financial and human resources management.John will discuss minimizing the cost associated with silage storage in silo bunkers and bags.


In addition to these excellent speakers, there will be several breakout sessions dealing with other forage-related topics.One breakout session will include Dr. Hank Mayland from Idaho who has done the much reported research about the value of cutting alfalfa in the afternoon.Come hear his results and see if it applies to your operation.He will also present information on why animals prefer some grasses over others.


In another breakout session, Gary Frank will develop budgets for production costs on farms.What does it cost you to produce corn, soybeans or silage per acre or per ton?Jim Faust will follow with a simple method to determine the custom harvesting charges necessary to cover costs.


A third breakout session will discuss the latest on potato leafhopper resistance.This is potentially the greatest breakthrough for alfalfa yields of the last decade - what have we learned about it.






Two nationally recognized experts in rotational grazing will be featured speakers at the Wisconsin Forage Council Annual Symposium January 25 and 26 in Wisconsin Dells. Charlie Opitz of Mineral Point, Wisconsin and Dave Forgey of Logansport, Indiana will share their experiences rotationally grazing dairy cows, and participate in a panel discussion on cost of producing milk using grazing techniques.


Mr. Opitz milks 1,100 cows and maintains associated dry cows, young stock and heifers using 3,000 acres of pasture and hay ground. He also grows 300 acres of corn silage.He has been a leader in dairy grazing and has been a featured speaker at numerous events throughout the U.S. and internationally. His farm has been the subject of articles in National Geographic, New Farm Magazine and Stockman Grass Farmer.


Mr. Forgey currently milks 150 cows and grazes 300 acres of grass/legume mixtures in a New Zealand style, seasonal rotationally grazing system.He travels extensively in the fall and winter months relating his experiences in his transition to a seasonal, grass-based dairy. He has written of his experience for Hoardís Dairyman on a regular basis.




As more and more people move from the city to rural areas, many farmers are faced with the challenges of carrying out farming operations in an increasingly urban environment. What changes in farmland ownership are occurring which are responsible for this?Where is it happening? How does this affect farmers who remain farming? These questions and more will be addressed at the Wisconsin Forage Council Annual Symposium January 25 and 26 in Wisconsin Dells.


Doug Jackson-Smith will discuss the changing rural environment. He is a Rural Sociologist with the Program on Agricultural Technology, specializing in urban and regional planning issues. He is a popular speaker with many through provoking ideas. His talk will be followed by two farmers who are farming in areas surrounded by non-farmers, and how they have worked with their neighbors to minimize the urban-farm problems.Come ask questions and get suggestions for dealing with your situations!


Improving Forage and TMR Bunk Life

by Jim Leverich and Randy Shaver
Monroe County Extension Agent
Extension Dairy Nutrition Specialist, UW-Madison



Forages and total mix rations (TMRs) that begin heating after they are fed can lower dry matter intake and animal performance. Proper management during ensiling and feeding can minimize heating in the feed bunk and improve palatability.


What causes feed to heat in a bunk?

During the ensiling process, bacteria ferment silage sugars to lactic acid. The lactic acid is responsible for lowering silage pH. Any oxygen that is present in the silage mass after packing is used up in the fermentation process. The combination of low pH and lack of oxygen stabilizes the silage while it is in the silo.


During feed-out, oxygen is re-introduced into the silage and yeast can become active causing the silage to heat up. Because of high yeast content and available sugars, corn and small grain silages are more prone to heating during feed-out. The tendency to heat during feed-out is also prevalent in grass or legume silage that did not ferment well.

Management options to minimize silage heating and spoiling.

Several management factors help to minimize heating and spoilage of silage that occurs after feed-out. In general, harvest management practices that promote a desirable fermentation will help to reduce post-feeding losses. These practices include:

        harvesting forages at the correct moisture content,

        chopping forage at the correct particle length,

        packing silage to a density of 15 lb DM per cubic foot and,

        covering the silo with plastic.

Along with these practices, it is recommended that the harvested forage be inoculated with a minimum of 100,000 colony-forming units (cfu) of lactic acid producing bacteria at ensiling. This usually improves silage fermentation and in some cases may improve bunk life. However, bunk life is often not improved in silages with a very high lactic acid content such as corn silage. Lactic acid is an energy source for yeast fungi and can promote a fast yeast buildup in silages during feed-out. High levels of yeast activity lead to heating of fed silage.


To enhance the bunk stability of corn silage, anhydrous ammonia can be added during the ensiling process. However, the use of anhydrous ammonia may actually reduce DM recovery from the silo. The recommended rate of application is 7 lb per ton of 35% DM corn silage. All safety precautions must be followed when using anhydrous ammonia.


Another option for improving bunk life of fed silage is the use of proprionic acid based products. These commercially available products reduce the growth of yeast and molds in silage when added during the ensiling process. These products often contain some acetic acid or benzoic acid to make them more effective against yeast. Since these are buffered-acid products, corrosion of harvesting equipment or blowers is not a concern. These products are usually added at a rate of 2-4 lbs/ton of 35% DM silage. Because of cost, their use at ensiling has been limited, but their use at the time of TMR mixing is becoming more common.


Finally, removal of sufficient quantities of silage from the silo each day to keep the face or surface cool is extremely important. Silage needs to be removed evenly across the whole face or surface of the silo. A minimum of 6 inches of feed (or enough to keep the face cool between feedings) should be removed each day to minimize oxygen exposure and keep feed fresh. Any feed that is loosened during feed-out but left in the silo has been exposed to oxygen and it could start to heat. So, keep the face even and tightly packed and feed up any loose silage.


Managing TMR mixes to minimize heating?

Manage the wet feed ingredients (i.e. silage, wet brewers grains, corn gluten feed, etc.) that will be added to the TMR to minimize heating in them. "Hot" ingredients added to a TMR will cause it to heat up in the bunk. "Hot" ingredients that can not be controlled may need to be fed as a lower proportion of the mix or removed from the TMR.


Prepare the TMR mix just prior to feeding it. Mixing a TMR and allowing it to sit over night before feeding will allow it to heat up.


Keep a clean bunk. Remove all feed refusals daily before any new TMR is fed. To keep the feed fresh in tie-stall barns, use manger liners and drinking cup anti-splash guards, and ventilate the barn properly.†† Feed a sufficient number of times each day to keep the feed in the bunk cool. Frequency of feeding often needs to be increased during hot, humid weather patterns.


Are there products that can be added to the TMR to reduce heating?

A number of propionic acid based products are available that reduce growth of yeast and molds when added to the TMR. By reducing the potential for yeast and mold growth, bunk life may be enhanced.These products often contain some acetic acid or benzoic acid to make them more effective against yeast. Since these are buffered-acid products, corrosion of the mixer is not a concern. These products are typically added during mixing time at rates of 2-4 lbs/ton of TMR. They usually cost about $1.00 per lb. or about $0.15 per cow per day. Because of high cost, these products are typically used only during the summer or when "hot" ingredients are being added to the TMR.




Transferring Silage Between Silos

by Randy Shaver and Jim Leverich
Extension Dairy Nutrition Specialist, UW-Madison
Monroe County Extension Agent



We often receive questions from dairy producers about the practice of transferring silage from the silo where it was originally stored to a more conveniently located silo for feeding. This occurs when silage is bought and sold between operations, moves from farm to farm within an operation, or moves into an upright silo to better utilize a conveyor feeding system. This article will address the most frequently asked questions about this practice.


Can silage be transferred from one storage unit to another?

Controlled research studies have not been conducted to determine the amount of dry matter (DM) or nutritive value loss that is incurred with this practice. We know that silage transfer is done on farms and that reports have been both good and bad.


During the ensiling process, bacteria ferment sugars to lactic acid thereby lowering silage pH. Oxygen present in the silage mass after packing is used up in the fermentation process. The combination of low pH and lack of oxygen stabilizes the silage while it is in the silo. During the transfer of silage to another structure, oxygen is re-introduced into the silage and yeast can become active causing the silage to heat up. Corn silage or small-grain silage, because of their high yeast counts and available sugar, are often prone to heating during a silage transfer. This tendency to heat during a silage transfer is also prevalent in grass or legume silage that did not ferment well.


Because of the introduction of oxygen into the transferred silage, we suspect that there is some loss of both DM and nutritive value. The severity of loss depends on the type and quality of silage transferred, and the transfer process.


Does time of year influence the success of silage transfer?

Yes. Silage is less prone to heating during transfer and feed-out in cold weather. Limiting silage transfer and the feeding of transferred silage to the late fall,


winter, and early spring months helps reduce the risks associated with transferring silage.


Can additives help prevent silage losses after transfer?

Yes. There are a number of propionic acid based additives that reduce the growth of yeast and molds when added to silage and thereby lessen the risk associated with transferring silage. These products often contain some acetic acid or benzoic acid to make them more effective against yeast. Since these are buffered-acid products, corrosion of equipment is not a concern. These products are usually added at a rate of 4 lbs/per ton of as-fed silage while re-ensiling. They usually cost about $1.00 per lb.


What other management tips should be considered?

Unstable silage that is prone to heating upon exposure to oxygen is not a good candidate for transfer. Testing the silage for pH, yeast counts, and rate and extent of heating upon exposure to oxygen can be done to determine whether it is likely to transfer well.


Make the transfer as quickly as possible to minimize the time that the silage is exposed to oxygen. There should be less oxygen introduced into the silage mass if transferred to a bunker silo or bag than if blown into an upright silo. Pack the re-ensiled material well to exclude as much oxygen from the silage as possible. Transferring to an oxygen-limiting silo should improve the likelihood of a successful transfer, especially for high-moisture corn.

Removing sufficient transferred silage from the silo each day during feed-out to keep the face or surface cool is important. Silage needs to be removed evenly across the whole face or surface of the silo. Typically, removal of 6 inches or more of feed is required to keep the silage face cool between feedings. Any feed that is loosened during feeding and left in the silo is exposed to oxygen and will begin to heat. So, keep the face even and tightly packed and feed up any loose silage.






Saved for Sponsorship By Knowles Produce
Bunker Silo Cover Alternatives

by Brian Holmes Extension Specialist, Biological Systems Engineering, UW-Madison



Silage is covered for two primary reasons. First, covered silage reduces exposure to oxygen. Oxygen is required for the growth of aerobic organisms. These aerobic organisms cause the decomposition of valuable feed. A second reason for covering silage is to exclude rainfall. Precipitation washes organic acids and other soluble feed components from the forage. Organic acids keep silage pH low resulting in an environment that prevents growth of silage-decomposing organisms. In addition, precipitation introduces oxygen to the feed.

Seepage caused by either high-moisture forage or precipitation carries away valuable feed nutrients and increases the risk of surface and groundwater contamination. Bunker silo covers should be selected based on their ability to exclude both air and precipitation.


What is the best material for covering a bunker silo?

Research and on-farm experience has shown 4-6 mil thick plastic containing ultraviolet light protection works well to exclude air and precipitation. Precipitation runoff from the bunker silo cover should be diverted without passing through the silage (often a problem at the bunker walls). Plastic should be held in contact with the silage to keep air from moving under the plastic to get into the forage. This is often done with waste tires or tire sidewalls. The tires should touch each other to obtain good, uniform weighting. Soil or sandbags are often used to seal the plastic edges.


What bunker cover alternatives provide protection for silage?

A variety of materials has been used on farms as an alternative to plastic covers. Some of these materials have been researched to study their effectiveness at preventing silage from spoiling. Producers often judge effectiveness by the depth of the spoilage layer (blackened forage) and the convenience of using an alternative cover. Extreme caution should be used when considering producer's claims of alternative cover performance. Most producers don't understand that one inch of black forage may have been 2-3 inches of green, high quality feed when placed into storage. This represents a 50-65% loss of dry matter. They also don't understand that there is a transition zone (1-2 feet) of brown-gray forage below the black layer where a substantial amount (20-30%) of dry matter loss occurs.

Research has shown that covering silage with ground limestone or soil may provide some silage protection compared to no cover at all. However, unless a cover excludes air and water, it does not compare very well to plastic covers.

Research has also shown that covering silage with molasses, "nutri-shield", sawdust, sod, or a roof only does not protect against spoilage loss any better than if the silage remains uncovered.


Are there any spray-on products that can provide good silage protection?

This is the "Holy Grail" of silage covers. The concept would allow minimal effort and still provide forage protection. Several products have been developed and tested, but to date nothing has emerged as a successful product.





Can you help?????The Wisconsin Forage Council is looking for companies to sponsor up-coming issues of The Forager. The Forager is a quarterly newsletter that is mailed to all WFC members.Membership includes forage producers and university and industry personnel all over the United States and Canada.The cost of sponsorship is $500 per issue, which covers the cost of printing and mailing The Forager allowing money to be available to put towards other projects.In return, your company would receive an ad of your choice such as the Knowles Produce & Trading Co. ad in this issue.This is an excellent way to reach a specific target audience with interest in forage production.If you are interested in sponsoring an issue, please contact Shelly Minick at the WFC office at 608-846-1825 for more information.††


Itís that time again!If you havenít already done so, please use the following form to mail in your Membership dues, or if you are attending the Symposium you can pay your dues along with your registration fee on the Registration form inserted in this issue.You wonít want to miss out on the next issue of The Forager.


Wisconsin Forage Council Membership Form

Make check payable to:

Wisconsin Forage Council

813 W. Lexington Pkwy

DeForest, WI 53532-3055



Farm/Company Name_____________________________



Local Council/County_____________________________

(Check One)††† Farmer/producer_____††† Educational_____†††† Industry_____


Wisconsin Forage Council 1-year membership*



†††(you will receive a forage Newsletter, coupon book & local mailings)



Wisconsin Forage Council 3-year membership*



†††(you will receive a forage Newsletter, coupon book & local mailings)



American Forage and Grassland Council*



†††(join national organization for 1-year and receive AFGC Newsletter)



*All memberships run calendar year from January 1 to December 31