What are your experiences feeding high moisture earlage to feedlot cattle?

High-moisture earlage is a unique feed but does have a high feeding value. On a DM-basis, the cob portion (fiber portion) consists of approximately 20%. This is what the average is on dry whole-ear corn. This is assuming a similar proportion in high-moisture earlage that would be harvested early. If it is different, the cob portion would be a bit higher proportion, perhaps 25 to 30% because the grain may have not filled in as well as the cob. If husks and other fibrous “trash” are in the earlage, then the fiber portion is greater. Putting high-moisture earlage “up” or properly ensiling would be a concern. You would want to ensure adequate moisture of approximately 30% and also ensure that it is packed to minimize air. Because the cob portion will change the consistency, there is a greater tendency for air to get “trapped” during the ensiling. If that happens, spoilage would be a concern and shrink. Another important factor for consideration is how the earlage is processed. Because the earlage is ground, the feeding value and starch digestion of the corn portion would be quite rapid, at least as rapid as normal high-moisture corn alone. You would want to be careful feeding large amounts to cattle because of rumen pH problems that may occur. Earlage can be mixed high-moisture earlage or with some dry-rolled corn or whole corn, depending on the capabilities at the feedlot. Feed approximately 50 to 60% high-moisture earlage with 30 to 40% dry corn. This equates to approximately 10% roughage in the diet from the fibrous portion of the earlage. The remaining diet can be supplemented including calcium, protein, trace minerals, vitamin, ionophores, etc. Do not feed more than 60% of the diet as high-moisture earlage. The protein source can be urea or other highly degradable protein sources to ensure adequate DIP in the diet. While high-moisture corn (80% of high-moisture earlage) does provide more DIP than dry corn, the rapid fermentation and large extent of digestion in the rumen appears to require more DIP than other grain processing methods. Balancing a diet for 13% crude protein with urea (100% DIP) and maybe some soybean meal (70% DIP) would be a good approach. Process the diets utilizing the 1996 NRC model to properly evaluate the diet for adequacy in terms of meeting ruminal microbial requirements and meeting the animals’ protein requirement (MP). Feel free to get in touch with me if there are more questions or clarifications needed.