Archive: Silage samping

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Get maize sampling right

It’s crucial that sampling from the maize clamp is done correctly, as poor technique will lead to unreliable and incorrect results, says Tom Goatman, DairyCo extension officer.

Silage clamps should, ideally, be sampled every four weeks over winter to maintain ration consistency. Regular sampling of maize silages will allow changes in starch digestibility to be accounted for as winter progresses. Diets formulated and balanced based on a lower starch digestibility in early winter may have been supplemented with additional energy to compensate.  

As the winter feeding period progresses, maize starch digestibility will increase, which will mean more starch available in the rumen. This can cause an increased risk of Sub-acute Ruminal Acidosis.

Sampling must be done correctly as a poor technique will only produce poor results. Below are some tips to getting the best possible sample

  • Samples should be representative of the silage animals are actually eating. Face samples should be taken about nine inches (22.5cm) back from the face
  • Take nine sub-samples in a W shape across the clamp. Mix well and evenly in a bucket, then tip onto a clean surface (not rough concrete) and divide by the method of quartering until you get a 0.5kg sample size for bagging and sending to the laboratory. Ensure all material is collected and included from the quartered sub-sample
  • Remove as much air as possible from the bag and ensure the sample is clearly identified with the necessary information requested by the laboratory that will be analysing the sample
  • Avoid posting samples on a Friday, as you want samples to be tested the day they arrive in the laboratory.

The Forage Analytical Assurance Group has an excellent video on how to sample silages correctly.

More information about assessing your feed options can be found in Feeding+ section 4 or contact Tom Goatman on 07854 508577.