Corn silage enhances the diet’s energy density while supplying effective fiber, provided particle size is adequate. This energy is influenced by the digestibility of both structural (fiber) and nonstructural (mainly starch) carbohydrates.
To assess the contribution of each carbohydrate fraction, we looked at the results of more than 200,000 corn silage samples analyzed by the Dairy One Forage Laboratory between 2004 and 2020.
Out of 215,203 samples, average acid detergent fiber (ADF) was 25.4% dry matter (DM). Ranging from 21.5% to 29.3%, it had almost an 8-percentage unit spread (see table).
The average neutral detergent fiber (NDF) of 212,887 samples was 43%, ranging from 37.3% to 48.7%. That’s a 11.4-percentage unit spread! What is important to know is how much of that NDF is digestible.
Current research considers 24, 30, or sometimes even 48 hours in vitro NDF digestibility (NDFD) as better predictors of forage digestibility than lignin.
Continue reading this article published in Hoard’s Dairyman.