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Best practice – Ensiling maize and using the correct inoculant

Advice from our specialist Advice from our specialist31-8-2020
Maize clamp

Maize silage has plenty of starch available for the fermentation and has a low buffering, so should be easy to ferment. However it is higher dry matter than most grass silages and can have a longer chop length so is more difficult to consolidate in the clamp. This means there is more air in the clamp and greater risk from yeast and mould spoilage.

A maize crop is at greater risk than other forages due to the time of year it is harvested with yeast and mould growth on the standing crop.


  • Fill the clamp quickly
  • Apply a suitable  silage inoculant to improve aerobic stability and reduce dry matter losses.
  • Consolidate well. Roll continuously and keep the front face pushed up.
  • Seal completely for rapid, anaerobic fermentation.
  • Weigh down with tyres, bales or weights.

Silages vary in two ways. Firstly how easily they ferment which is determined by the amount of starch or sugar available plus their buffering capacity and secondly how easily they heat up in the presence of air also called aerobic spoilage.

Using an inoculant

Reasons to treat forage maize with a silage additive:

  • Reduce DM losses during fermentation and storage
  • Reduce losses and waste after opening
  • Increase milk yield and live weight gain

The risk of heating at feed-out is greater during warm weather with higher ambient temperatures or if the removal across the face is slow. A narrow face can help reduce waste if the amount used in the diet is low and moving from left to right in a consistent way so that the oldest exposed material is used first will also help.

Using a silage additive can improve aerobic stability and reduce DM losses by up to 50%, however choosing the correct additive is important to be most effective. Yeast and mould can tolerate lactic acid so a different type of fermentation which produces propionic acid and acetic acid is required to stabilise maize silage.

Energy losses from maize silage of 20-24% are typical with 16% from feed-out, face and fermentation DM losses. Silage clamps mainly heat at the top and shoulders where compaction is less, which is often shown as a 10 degree difference in temperature between the top and bottom of the clamp.

It may take 3 days for silage to heat up when exposed to air during the summer months or 5-6 days in the winter.

The digestibility and starch content of maize silage improves with time in the clamp. Ideally maize should be left for at least a month before feeding to allow pH and feed quality to stabilise.

Selecting the correct inoculant

Maize inoculant selector

For more information

For more information on maize additives please contact your local account manager or alternatively send us an online enquiry here.