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Selecting Sorghum Silage Hybrids

sorghum silage

Selecting Sorghum Silage Hybrids

Sorghum Silage will make your cows happy and improve your bottom line

Sorghum can play a very important role in a dairy operation by providing a lower cost silage for dry cows and replacement heifers. Sorghum silage hybrids also exist that can produce silage that has the same feeding value as corn silage with lower cost in high moisture stress or water limited areas like the High Plains or dairy regions of the Western U.S.

It’s all about the grain for milking cows

High quality silage is all about digestibility and energy. Grain is highly digestible and is the reason that sorghum hybrids that get more of their yield from grain have the highest quality. These hybrids include NK300 and SP3904 BD BMR by Sorghum Partners (Table 1). These hybrids can produce starch contents above 15% and that is reflected in the amount of grain produced by the plants.

Its all about yield for non-milking animals

For dry cows and replacement heifers, low cost silage is the key. These animals require less energy because they are not producing milk. The cost of feeding them is very important and the way to reduce that cost is have silage hybrids that produce high yields with lower quality silage then compared with what is fed to a milking cow. In these situations, Sorghum Partners SS405 is a great choice (Table 1). SS405 is high yielding with lower grain levels. This hybrid puts more of its growth energy into leaves and stems and less into the grain. SS405 is also a sweet stalk hybrid meaning it will have high stalk sugars. High stalk sugars improve the ensiling process and can be converted to energy by the animal. SS405 can produce silage with costs that are 25% lower than per ton (Table 2). Feel free to download Sorghum Partners Silage Comparison Tool to understand your silage costs.

Sorghum silage is a viable option for feeding all the animals in a dairy operation and you may be missing out on lower cost, high quality silage if you overlook sorghum silage.

Table 1. Sorghum Partners Silage Hybrid Performance.
Variable NK300 & SP3904 BD BMR SS405
Yield (T/acre @ 65%) 25.0 27.2
Grain (lbs/acre) 7,871 2,734
Plant Height (in) 73 125
ADF (%) 29.6 33.4
NDF (%) 45.5 51.3
NDFD30 (%) 43.8 40.7
Starch (%) 19.7 10.2
Milk Ton/lb DM 3,297 3,115
Source: TX Agrilife Forage Sorghum Silage Trials


Table 2. Sorghum and Corn Silage Economics.