Submitted to: Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/22/2017
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Ensiling is the preservation of forage for livestock through microbial fermentation. Although ensiling of plant material by its associated surface microbial community alone is possible, the cost of an uncontrolled fermentation can include dry matter loss, decreased quality, and spoilage. While proper harvesting, handling, and storage play a critical role in promoting optimal fermentation conditions (anaerobic, low pH), the use of additives to further optimize ensiling and silage quality is common. Some of these additives, most notably inoculants, have been linked to increases in animal performance. The mechanisms underlying these increases are not fully understood and may be due, in part, to microbial shifts in the gut. Until recently, our knowledge of the microbial communities in the rumen was measured indirectly, using evidence of their activity, or relied heavily on the ability to cultivate organisms of interest. Advances in high-throughput next-generation sequencing technologies offer insight into the effects of silage additives on complex ruminal microbiomes and how they may be potential tools for linking silage characteristics to animal performance via the ruminal microbiome. This discussion seeks to connect silage additives to the ruminal microbiome, identify gaps in knowledge, and provide future directions in silage research.