Feeding Sheep Corn Silage
Table of Contents
Corn silage is a high energy, low protein fermented feed suitable for sheep feeding. However, some guidelines should be followed when incorporating corn silage in ewe and lamb diets.
Corn silage is composed of the entire corn plant, typically harvested at a whole plant moisture content of 65%. Up to 50% of the dry matter of corn silage is grain corn. Corn silage ferments well due to its high sugar content, and packs well in upright and bunk silos. As with any silage fed to sheep, listeriosis (circling disease) can be a concern. Listeria is a bacterium that is present in soil. Feeding improperly fermented silage to sheep is a major source of the organism. Consider the following tips when feeding silages:
The typical nutrient value of corn silage is as follows: (Dry matter basis)
Note that corn silage is low in protein, low in calcium, and usually requires supplementation across all animal types for Vitamins D and E. As always, ration evaluation for macro and micro minerals is important, especially selenium and sulfur.
Corn silage can be used across all stages of production, provided that the diets have been properly supplemented and proper feeding management is followed. As an example, ewes of 150-175 pounds bodyweight at maintenance could consume 5-7 pounds of corn silage per day. Ewes on this restricted intake may be hungry, so insure all ewes can eat at the same time.
During flushing and breeding, intake may be increased up to 10 pounds per day. Energy requirements would be met for this stage of production. Early gestation corn silage feeding levels are similar to maintenance intake of 5-7 pounds per day. Evaluate carefully the energy intake during late gestation. Additional dry matter in the from of grain may be necessary. During lactation, the ewes energy demands are highest. Corn silage may still be used, but an evaluation of intake and energy needs is critical. For the first 30-45 days of lactation, ewes may consume as high as 12-15 pounds corn silage per day depending on their number of lambs.
Economics determine corn silage use for growing and finishing lambs. Evaluations of costs on a minimal roughage, high grain diet versus corn silage/supplementation feeding program is required. If fed, the following guidelines should be considered:
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