Don’t waste your money on the wrong inoculant
he best investments you can make on your dairy often pay dividends in higher yields and intakes, less waste, healthier animals, and, ultimately, greater convenience, efficiency, and profits.
mentation. The “bad guys” typically outnumbered the “good guys.” In fact, the most prevalent bacteria in this sampling were enterobacteria, which can be pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli and other disease-causing bacteria.
That’s why it’s critical to invest in the right inoculant from the start. This article will explain the basic types of inoculants, which crops to use them on, and, finally, how to make specific choices based on the dozens of products competing for your inoculant investment dollars.
Dr. Andy Beardsmore, one of the early leading proponents of bacterial inoculation, expressed this concept clearly.
Skipping inoculation Silage can be made without adding bacterial inoculant, but fermentation needs bacteria. If you don’t inoculate with the specific bacteria found in a quality product, you’re at the mercy of what’s naturally found on the crop in the field, and that’s not always a pretty sight. Millions of bacterial colonies are on every gram of feed in the field. One study from Silage Science and Technology (2003) showed more than 10 million colony forming units (cfu) of bacteria and fungi are found on each gram of forage. The alarming part is less than 10 percent of those organisms are the type that enhance an efficient, lactic acid-based fer-
He said, “There is a huge variation in the numbers of epiphytic (naturally occurring) lactic acid bacteria from crop to crop. Quite often, the naturally occurring bacteria are not high enough in numbers or are of the wrong species to achieve a lactic acid fermentation. Inoculation with a live culture should help direct the fermentation toward lactic acid production.” Two basic inoculant types: Upfront fermenters and aerobic stability enhancers. Which should you use? To answer this question, you need to determine if you encounter problems with spoilage or if a simple upfront fermenter will do the job. For many years, inoculants were only used to drop pH quickly for a fast fermentation via lactic acid production. A rapid production of lactic acid minimizes dry matter losses and maximizes silage quality. Once the pH drops and the silage is not exposed to oxygen, feed quality can
be maintained in storage for a long period of time. If your feed is consistently put up at the ideal maturity, particle size, moisture and storage density, covered well, and feedout occurs without spoilage or heating, a simple upfront fermenter will suffice. This may seem like a tall order, but a fairly high percentage of feeds, including haylages, corn silage, grass silage and high moisture grains, are treated with a simple