WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — As the price of corn goes, so goes
the price of corn silage. Knowing how the price of the former will affect the
price of the latter can translate into extra dollars in the pockets of
Purdue Extension has a new publication to help dairy
producers and corn silage growers determine those prices.
Determining a Value for Corn
Silage also contains an online Corn Silage Crop Calculator. The
publication, AS-611-W, is free and available at
“Corn silage prices depend on the price of grain, and there
can be a huge variation in prices,” said Tamilee Nennich, a Purdue Extension
dairy cattle nutrition specialist and one of the publication’s authors. “There
are a wide variety of strategies out there with which we can price corn
Corn silage, a forage consisting of corn grain and
cornstalks harvested when the corn plant still is partially green, makes up
about 30 percent of the dry matter in an average dairy cow’s diet. The forage is
a good source of fiber and energy for lactating cows.
The $40 to $50 per ton that dairy farmers typically pay corn
growers for silage often turns into $50 to $80 per ton once the dairy producer
harvests and transports the forage and then places it in a silo for fermentation
and storage, Nennich said. The silage usually remains in storage for months
until it is ready to be fed to cows.
There are many issues dairy producers and corn silage
growers should consider when pricing silage. Buyers and sellers will come at it
from different perspectives, Nennich said. One such issue is moisture
“Corn silage should contain 65 to 68 percent moisture, but
the amount of actual feed dry matter varies and should be taken into account,”
the specialist said. “Determining the silage dry matter is necessary for
arriving at the actual amount of feed that is harvested from a field.”
Grain yield is another consideration. A larger grain harvest
could portend a higher silage price.
“As a general rule of thumb, you can price silage by
multiplying the price of corn per bushel by a factor of somewhere between eight
and 10,” Nennich said.
The Corn Silage Crop Calculator is a Microsoft Excel-based
program that comes in two parts. One part calculates silage price based on
silage yield from the field, while the other calculates silage price based on
corn grain price. Either part can be used to arrive at a price for corn
In both spreadsheets, the farmer will enter data such as
corn price per bushel, silage yield per acre or estimated grain yield, percent
of corn silage dry matter, harvest/hauling/storage cost and the estimated amount
of shrinkage during storage. Results appear as cost of corn silage value per ton
and the final cost of silage to producer.
“There are default values built into the calculator or a
silage producer can adjust the values according to what they save in harvesting,
drying and storage costs,” the specialist said. “The dairy producer can make
adjustments on what their cost would be to haul and harvest the corn silage
themselves, so that they can see how that affects the final silage price at
Nennich hopes silage producers and their dairy producer
customers do the calculations together.
“It can help them arrive at a mutual agreement for corn
silage,” she said.
Determining a Value for Corn
Silage is co-authored by Kern Hendrix, a retired Purdue Extension
cattle specialist. The publication is among a series of five new dairy
management publications written or co-written by Nennich.
All are free for download. Others include:
* Feeding Distillers Grain to Young Dairy Heifers, AS-609-W —
* Supplementing Young Grazing Dairy Heifers With Lick Tubs: A Case Study,
AS-610-W — https://mdc.itap.purdue.edu/item.asp?item_numberAS-610-W;
* Forages and Feeding Dairy Cattle During Drought Conditions, AS-616-W —
* Drought and Nutrient Management Considerations for Dairy Farms, AS-617-W —