Be Confident in the Performance of Your Corn Silage with Ration Choice®
By Legacy Seeds | July 19, 2023
Most corn grain hybrids are bred for exactly that: corn grain. So if you’re growing corn for silage, why plant a hybrid that was only optimized for one part of the plant?
That’s why Legacy Seeds created Ration Choice® — a corn silage hybrid program designed to meet the specific needs of dairy and livestock farmers. Every hybrid sold under Ration Choice® has been thoroughly tested and proven to deliver the starch, fiber, yield and sugar values farmers need to maximize their ROI and keep their herd healthy.
“We evaluate products not only from a yield standpoint, but also digestibility and quality,” says Jim Wold, Corn and Soybean Product Manager. “We’ll run 800 to 1,000 samples through a strict and proprietary set of lab tests in order to know which products are better to use. It gives farmers a lot more confidence in their corn silage program.”
A Corn Hybrid for Every Livestock and Dairy Farmer
We understand that every dairy and livestock farm operates a little differently, especially when it comes to their rations. That’s why the Ration Choice® program has three product categories, so every farmer can find the right fit for their needs.
Ration Choice® Flex Acre Hybrids
Flex Acre corn hybrids are designed for farmers who need the option of either including them in their silage or selling them as grain, and they’ve been evaluated for digestibility from both standpoints. These hybrids do well for farmers who have a higher percentage of alfalfa in their rations, such as 50:50 silage/alfalfa, or dairies with at least 60% alfalfa.
Ration Choice® Silage Specific Hybrids
Our Silage Specific Hybrids feature a higher starch digestibility, softer kernel texture, and typically higher sugar content, while still yielding well.
“Sugar content doesn’t get measured in the seed business very often, but it’s energy and it’s more quickly digested,” says Jim. “It goes into the animal as fiber and starch, and the more digestible fiber you can have, along with sugars, you have a better feed source for that animal. It helps with herd health, butterfat content, and dry matter intake.”
These hybrids also have a lower starch content compared to the Flex Acre hybrids, which makes them ideal for dairy rations consisting of 60% corn silage or more. They’re also ideal for alfalfa diets where RFQ levels are higher than 160%.
NEW: Ration Choice® Silage Specific Full Floury Hybrids
This new lineup coming to the Ration Choice® program will feature Silage Specific hybrids where both parents are floury based. Being full floury will result in higher digestibility and sugar content.
Rigorous Testing Process
Hybrids that make the cut for Ration Choice® are determined by a proprietary series of lab tests, starting with the 7hrlVSD starch test.
“We use a 7-hour starch test first and foremost. That’s the first 7 hours of ingesting feed stuff to see how much digestibility you have out of it,” Jim says.
Then we look at fast-pool starch, which indicates how much starch is immediately available for digestion.
“We use fast-pool starch as more of a tie-breaker in determining which hybrids are better hybrids,” Jim says.
On the fiber side, we run NFDF30 to measure digestible fiber at 30 hours, uNDF240, which measures undigested fiber at 240 hours and TTNDFD, which stands for Total Tract Neutral Fiber Digestibility, as it provides a better comparison of fiber digestibility across multiple forage types.
Other calculations we’re able to derive from this testing include MPT (estimated amount of milk per ton of dry matter), MPA (dry matter yield multiplied by MPT), KP (digestion rate of feedstuffs in the rumen) and KD (digestion rate of feedstuffs passing from the rumen).
Reliable Results: Greater Milk, Digestible Tonnage
All of this testing to select the right hybrids leads to tangible results for dairy and livestock farmers. On average, Ration Choice® produces around 220 pounds more milk per ton and roughly 1,900 pounds more milk per acre, compared to the combined national average.
Ration Choice® Silage Specific Hybrids can also help farmers get more digestible tonnage out of their acres over DP and BMR hybrids, which can lead to significant cost savings or other profitable opportunities for farmers. For example, a farmer planting 1,000 acres of BMR to feed his herd may only need to plant 700 acres of Ration Choice®, leaving that 300 acres for another crop.
“With BMR hybrids, you have to use some form of structural fiber, which a lot of times they put straw or something like that into their TMRs,” Jim says. “That’s an input they have to buy to get that fiber. If you’re using Silage Specific hybrids, part of the Ration Choice® program, you don’t need to do that. In fact you don’t want to do that. So there’s a cost savings there.”
Farmers also don’t have to worry about what Jim calls “mutt bunks” where cows go up and down in milk production because there’s a difference in feed quality and digestibility from having multiple hybrids in the bunk.
“We don’t want to have those feeding veins that throw cows off, so that’s why we do a lot of testing on these hybrids,” Jim says. “So if a farmer picks two or three hybrids from Ration Choice®, they can feel confident they’ll be pretty consistent in feeding over the course of the season.”
Greater Options with New Hybrids
Legacy Seeds is constantly evaluating new hybrids to see if they fit in the Ration Choice® program, and we’re excited to announce the following five are joining the lineup this year:
- 465-23: Excellent flexible-acre qualities, from tonnage to fiber and starch digestibility
- 525: A 102-day maturity that has shown up well in both tonnage and quality, including milk per ton and milk per acre, as well as fiber and starch digestibility
- 544: Excellent quality capabilities as well as great tonnage
- 644: 114-day hybrid that is going to be powerfully yielding for those looking for lots of tonnage
- 506: A silage-specific hybrid that is “just off the chart on sugar content,” says Jim, with decent starch content and fiber digestibility
Get Tailored Guidance on the Right Ration Choice® for Your Farm
Every farmer has their own specific needs when it comes to feeding their herds. That’s why Legacy Seeds representatives take the time to learn about your operation and what you need to ensure you’re growing a corn crop that can benefit your herd and farm overall.