Inoculants play an important role in maintaining year-round, high-quality fermented forage. The basic function of an inoculant is to lower pH and help speed up the fermentation process, thus consuming less sugars and starches leaving more available for animals to use for energy.
Fermentation problems like mold or spoilage often occur in areas where too much oxygen is available, like near the outer rim of structures where poor packing and higher porosity can occur. Aerobic bacteria will grow unchecked in these porous areas and dominate the lactic acid bacteria, and the process of lowering the silage’s pH slows down or stops. We can also see heating and spoiling issues during facing and feedout where no proven L. buchneri inoculant was used. When this fermented feed gets re-exposed to oxygen, three things can happen:
- Dormant yeasts can begin feeding on lactic acid.
- The pH level of the feed can increase.
- Microorganisms will start consuming sugars and starches and begin to break down the feed, which we see as the feed heats and can begin to mold.
Pioneer® brand inoculants are designed to meet the specific needs of each crop. DuPont Pioneer microbiologists discovered that some strains of bacteria were better for certain crops, because each crop has specific molds and bacteria that cause it to ferment at different rates. Using the right bacterial strain on the right crop allows more efficient preservation of dry matter because the pH level drops at a faster rate.
Inoculants that contain strains of L. buchneri bacteria are often recommended to preserve silage quality. L. buchneri bacteria provides rapid pH decline and can significantly improve bunklife. Strains of L. buchneri prefer low pH for optimal growth. The best L.buchneri strains will kill off the yeast at this low pH, thus providing a more stable feed during feedout.
Be careful with inoculant selection. Just like one animal within the same breed can perform very differently from another, each strain of L. buchneri can perform very differently. Talk to a trusted advisor such as a DuPont Pioneer dairy specialist or livestock information manager to help you make your inoculant decision.
The foregoing is provided for informational purposes only. Please consult with your nutritionist or veterinarian for suggestions specific to your operation. Product performance is variable and subject to a variety of environmental, disease, and pest pressures. Individual results may vary.
To learn more about inoculants, visit The Silage Zone® resource.