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Improving Grass Silage Quality and Cattle Profitability

New results show how Biomin® BioStabil PlusHC silage inoculant can enhance dairy and beef producers’ profitability.


Vesna Jenkins

Making silage enables the farmer to store forage, providing a cost-effective feed when required. From silage making through to feeding out, however, the challenge is to ensure that valuable dry matter, energy and protein are not lost. Any losses would require supplementation from other sources at extra cost. In the case of protein, farmers would need to purchase additional soybean meal, for example, to maintain cow productivity.

Improving Grass Silage Quality and Cattle Profitability

Clostridia: the main villain

One of the greatest challenges to making good silage is the presence of Clostridia bacteria, which can negatively impact animal health, performance and profitability. These bacteria pose a health risk to both beef and dairy cattle. Downstream on the dairy side, Clostridia spores negatively influence cheese quality (late blowing defect). 

Clostridia also poses a problem during the ensiling process. The bacteria break down protein thus reducing silage nutritional value and produce butyric acid which reduces silage palatability that influences feed intake. 
 

Clostridia easily enter through any soil contamination and are promoted by forage with low dry matter, high buffering capacity or lower levels of soluble carbohydrates and nitrate. 

Some negative impacts of Clostridia

  • Health risk to cattle
  • Reduced nutritional value of silage
  • Lower feed intake 
  • Late blowing defect in cheese

Trial results

A recent scientific trial tested the effect of Biomin® BioStabil PlusHC silage inoculant on grass-clover forage (28% DM) challenged with Clostridia. TheSwedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) research, demonstrated a clear effect of Biomin® BioStabil PlusHC on multiple parameters. 

The application of Biomin® BioStabil PlusHC to glass-clover forage resulted in better dry matter (DM) recovery (Figure 1) and higher protein preservation (Figure 2) - both of which contribute to feed cost savings. 

Higher dry matter recovery in grass-clover silage treated with Biomin® BioStabil PlusHC
Figure 1. Higher dry matter recovery in grass-clover silage treated with Biomin® BioStabil PlusHC (90 days past ensiling, P<0.001).
Source: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and BIOMIN.
Less ammonia-N with Biomin® BioStabil PlusHC
Figure 2. Less ammonia-N with Biomin® BioStabil PlusHC indicates significantly better protein preservation (90 days past ensiling, P<0.001). Source: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and BIOMIN.

Biomin® BioStabil PlusHC can protect against dry matter, energy and protein losses in the fermentation period because it contains therapid-growing lactic-acid-producing homofermentative strain L. plantarum DSM 19457, which ensures sufficient lactic acid production for a rapid pH drop in ensiled forage (Figure 3).

The results also show that Biomin® BioStabil PlusHCwas able to reduce the Clostridial load as evidenced by significantly lower butyric acid production (Figure 4). Lower butyric acid content translates into the maintenance of silage palatability, feed intake and the avoidance of final dairy product quality issues. 

ower pH in grass-clover silage challenged with Clostridia and treated with Biomin® BioStabil PlusHC
Figure 3. Lower pH in grass-clover silage challenged with Clostridia and treated with Biomin® BioStabil PlusHC compared to Clostridia challenged forage without inoculant (90 days past ensiling, P<0.001).
Source: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and BIOMIN.
Significantly lower butyric acid with Biomin® BioStabilHC
Figure 4. Significantly lower butyric acid with Biomin® BioStabilHC showing minimal Clostridia presence (90 days past ensiling, P<0.001). Source: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and BIOMIN.

Biomin® BioStabil PlusHC also contains heterofermentative strains the L. kefiri DSM 19455and L. brevis DSM 23231, which produce an optimal level of acetic acid to provide enhanced aerobic stability in the feed out phase. An EFSA scientific opinion on L. brevis DSM 23231 specifically outlines its ability to reduce Clostridia risk.

Protecting your profit margin

  • Biomin® BioStabil PlusHC protects against the growth of undesirable bacteria such as Clostridia, yeasts and molds during and after ensiling, helping prevent loss of valuable dry matter, energy and protein from the silage. 

  • The production of high quality, palatable, well-preserved silage ensures that the investment put into silage making is not wasted. Most importantly, the energy and protein preserved help maximize profitability through higher production of meat or milk, and generate feed cost savings that support producers’ margins.

Contact your local BIOMIN representative to access valuable resources and advice on all aspects of optimized silage management. 

Contact us today!