The much-respected University of Nebraska Animal Science department has recently been encouraging beef feedlots to introduce corn silage as a main component in their rations. Through extensive research they have concluded that feeding silage on these operations is much more economical and can be much more profitable for the operators.
Their research shows a $15-20 per head ncrease in profitability when feeding silage. That is the added profit when corn prices are at $3. The added profitability, per head, when corn is at $4-$5 is closer to $40 or $50.
Based on feeding silage at the university’s recommendations, they expect that hybrid selection can generate a 10% difference in feeding efficiency. Another benefit to feeding silage is that it results in a much more consistent feed source, as you have the product on hand.
Dr Galen Erickson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Professor of Animal Science and Feedlot extension specialist led a successful feeding trial this year; focused on beef background and feedlot feed efficiency. The trial is published in the 2020 Beef Report. They fed an 80% silage diet to 670lb. steers for 84 days, finishing the trial at 1000lbs. The trial was impressive; gains of over 4#/day and feed conversions of less than 6-1. In addition to the performance study, DM digestibility tests were performed on samples of the 3 hybrids tested to verify results.
3 varieties were chosen, the control (the most popular corn selection in the region known for silage performance), MCT6733 (an older hybrid known for fiber quality, however since retired) and MCT6365 (a new hybrid, known for fiber and starch digestibility). MCT6365 had the best performance of the trial with an increase of .13 lbs. average daily gain over the control and .19 lbs. average daily gain over MCT6733 (older genetics). This ADG could mean quicker facility turn-over for economics. MCT6365 also had an improved feed to gain ration of over 5% over the control and over 10% over MCT6733. This means that selection of the hybrid genetics can have a 10% or better improvement to your bottom line.
This trial was valuable on several fronts: 1) It helped solidify the value of feeding silage to background and particularly finish cattle. 2) it showed the enhanced value of selecting the right genetics in our corn hybrids. 3) It allowed Masters Choice to gauge the improvement of their hybrid line-up over years.