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Corn Silage Sampling Project Benefits Beef Producers

In response to questions from North Dakota beef producers about ways to optimize their silage quality, the NDSU Extension Service launched a corn silage research project in early 2017.

Corn Silage Sampling
Corn silage sampling (NDSU photo)

Corn silage is one of the most important forages used for livestock worldwide. Silage provides high yields of high-energy feed per acre, is palatable, is harvested rapidly and can be stored at a low cost in a variety of ways.

In response to questions from North Dakota beef producers about ways to optimize their silage quality, the NDSU Extension Service launched a corn silage research project in early 2017.

“Over the years, when livestock producers would send us feed samples for nutrient testing, we began to notice a wide variation in nutrient values,” said Carl Dahlen, an associate professor in NDSU’s Department of Animal Sciences.

Aimed at understanding the factors contributing to variation in the quality of corn silage throughout North Dakota, the project also was designed to strengthen the relationship between county Extension agents and local beef producers.

Corn silage research graphicDahlen, along with Miranda Meehan, NDSU Extension livestock environmental stewardship specialist, worked with 29 Extension agents to collect 171 corn silage samples from 27 North Dakota counties.

Each sample was analyzed for dry matter, ash, crude protein, neutral detergent fiber, acid detergent fiber, in-vitro dry matter digestibility (IVDMD), calcium and phosphorus.

Producers were surveyed about factors that could affect silage quality, including planting date, maturity, irrigation, inoculation and storage methods.

“Agents concluded the survey by asking producers what was the biggest concern facing their operation and how NDSU Extension could help,” said Meehan. “Not only do we want to provide recommendations to producers about ways to enhance their silage quality, we also want to better understand their continuing education needs.”

Once all samples and accompanying data were collected, producers were provided a detailed analysis of their individual sample. 

In the spring of 2018, NDSU Extension agents will be conducting meetings to discuss the results of the surveys with local beef producers.

For more information:

Carl Dahlen, 701-231-5588,
Miranda Meehan, 701- 231-7683,

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