Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension




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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
April 29, 1999

Value of Corn Silage

Corn silage is an excellent feed for ruminants. This high-energy forage is utilized by both beef and dairy producers as a basis for most of their rations. Circumstances develop on certain occasions that require a value to be placed on the corn silage. These requests range from pricing corn silage in the field prior to harvest to determining a value on silage already harvested and stored in a horizontal or upright silo.

Determining the value of corn silage already stored requires some considerations. Corn silage contains approximately 65 to 70 percent moisture. Any time you are determining the value of a product the moisture content must be considered. Also silage is very bulky to move which adds to the transportation cost. There are two standard guides for determining the weight and volume of corn silage. Silage that is not packed has a weight of approximately 25 pounds per cubic foot and well-packed silage is considered to weigh approximately 35 pounds per cubic foot. These numbers will vary slightly depending on the moisture content and length of cut at harvest.

Finding a market for silage harvested and stored also becomes a major consideration. Basically a dairy, feedlot, or a beef cow herd operation located close to the storage area is the best source for utilizing the silage product.

A nutritional analysis of the stored silage is also very helpful when placing a value on the silage. Soybean oil meal and #2 shelled corn are considered to be two basic feeds for comparing other feeds in determining the nutritional value of other sources of feed. If the market value of corn is $1.80 per bushel and 48% soybean oil meal is $11.00 per cwt., using the nutritional book listing for corn silage the nutritional value would calculate to $19.37 per ton or $0.97 per cwt. These calculations do not account for the additional cost of transporting the silage to the feeding location.

Locating a trucking firm who will transport the silage is not always easy. A dump trailer or one that is equipped with a moveable floor is suggested for transporting the silage. One firm I contacted indicated their prices to be $50.00 per hour for loading and $50.00 per hour for a dump truck equipped with a pup trailer. Using the 25-pound value of loose silage and transporting 20 cubic yards per trip, transporting 30 miles and allowing 15 minutes for loading, the value of the silage would be reduced f from $19.37 per ton to $6.41 per ton.

Corn silage definitely has a much higher value if it is utilized at or near the storage location compared to transporting the high moisture and less dense livestock feed. Keep in mind that for each 100 pounds of corn silage transported 65 to 70 pounds is accounted for as moisture, leaving 30 to 35 pounds of actual dry matter. This is one example that explains why all feeds need to be compared on both a dry matter basis and nutritional value.  

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - April 29, 1999
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT042999.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004