We entered the seed business eight years ago to sell forage grasses and clovers that were overlooked as high production animal forages in a state where animal feeding was defined as corn + alfalfa + soybeans crop rotations, plus wheat for straw. Higher costs for nitrogen and regulatory issues on water use has spurred a cover crop and green manure revolution, bringing many of these forages onto high production dairies. Dairymen seeking more milk in hay have rediscovered mixed hay seedings (alfalfa + clover + high energy later-heading grasses). What we learned is digestible fiber forages are the highest quality crop you can feed a ruminant animal—feed digested in the rumen makes milk and drives cow health.
A key issue with corn for silage is the increasing time it takes to complete fermentation. Modern corn varieties (bred from parent stock that was focused on the foreign export trade) take up to 100 days to complete the fermentation process. Until that process is complete, the milk yield and cow health has been suffering (working against the nutritionist’s goal of having “the same feed quality every day” in a high yield target confinement dairy’s TMR). Commodity corn companies focused on trait stacks and field yield market competition have left feeding quality in third place in genetic selection.
Several recent feed quality trials (especially in Wisconsin and Iowa) have identified the Masters Choice silage corns as completing the fermentation process in the first month after harvesting— 30 to 60 days faster than any of its competition. The reasons are all based in MC’s genetic selection in favor of feed quality traits first – floury (rumen digested) grain, high fiber energy leaf, high sugar density low lignin stalk. Once chopped, this plant has the ideal levels of sugars and digestibility to ferment easily without expensive inoculants and completes the process quickly. The corn kernels are also soft enough that no kernel processing is needed, either.
Thus the selection concept, Feed Ours First, was born for those who have not yet tried Masters Choice corn. Plant 20% of your silage acres to MC varieties, and store it where you can feed it the first couple months, while the other corn you have been selecting can complete its fermentation. More milk as fed, from healthier cows, thus better conception rates, will show the advantages in Masters Choice corns.