Submitted to: Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 29, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The two primary forages on dairy farms in the Midwest are alfalfa and corn silage. Over the past twenty years, alfalfa has generally received more attention due to lower production inputs and a higher protein content. Recently, more attention has been given to corn silage due largely to the loss of much alfalfa from winter kill. Is one these forages better suited to dairy operations, or is there a combination of these two forages that provides better production or profit? Many factors must be considered when comparing these two forages. Each forage has many advantages and disadvantages relative to the other. To make a proper evaluation and comparison, all of these factors and their interaction with each other must be considered. Several studies done at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center illustrate that milk production, costs of production, and overall farm profit can be similar with either forage or any combination of the two forages. Although there are not large economic differences when using various portions of alfalfa and corn silage, a mix of one third to one half corn silage may be preferred. This mix reduces the risk from loss of either crop, spreads labor requirements more uniformly throughout the production season, and it provides the best long term nutrient balance for the whole farm.