Fungicide Applications Improve Corn Silage Feed Efficiency

Fungicide Applications Improve Corn Silage Feed Efficiency
Phil Cardoso, Dairy Science - University of Illinois

June is National Dairy Month

Spraying a fungicide on corn in the Midwest has always been a 50/50 proposition related to cost. Half of the time it bumps yield by a couple of bushels and this can sometimes be enough to cover the cost. However, as Todd Gleason Reports, if that corn is going into silage, some new work from the University of Illinois says the improvement in feed efficiency for dairy cattle can pay for the fungicide not just once, but maybe twice.

This is simple science to understand…
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This is simple science to understand, yet it is important to note it seems only to apply to milk production. So, not for beef cattle. Dairy cows fed silage made from corn sprayed with a fungicide give more milk says University of Illinois Dairy Scientist Phil Cardoso (car-DOH-so)

Cardoso :32 …less of that material, of the corn silage.

Quote Summary - In the dairy cows what we have seen is that they gain feed efficiency. In our experiments we fed the cows after the peak of lactation, after 60 to 70 days in milk when they give less milk, and those cows produced the same pounds of milk while eating less of that material, of the corn silage.

The reason this happens is because the leaves of the corn plant, when harvested for silage, are in better condition. They are greener and more digestible. Interestingly enough says Cardoso there isn’t any change in the total mass, or weight of the material harvested - so no yield bump - just a healthier plant made that way because the leaves are protected from fungal diseases.

Cardoso :21 …get a return on it.

Quote Summary - In our trials we had linear responses. So, that means if you sprayed one time, two times, or three times - three times was even better than one time - however, when you adjust for the economics of milk production more than two applications weren’t worth it. Most likely one application would always provide a return.

One application of a corn fungicide improves silage feed efficiency. This statement has been true in the U of I field trials since 2013 and is not related to the presence of a fungal disease in the field. The silage contains less fiber, and more sugar. This improves the fermentation process, improves the quality of feed, and improves the feed efficiency of the dairy cows.