Obviously, the best way to determine a great forage is to feed it to your cows and see if the energy corrected milk (ECM) goes up. When the forages to compare are scattered all over the USA, the way to judge great forage is by submitting samples to the World Dairy Expo’s Forage Analysis Superbowl (FASB), the Granddaddy of such forage contests.
Further proof of forage quality is the consistency of the winners. Winning once is okay; however, winning continuously is the key. Now in its XXth year, the FASB has just announced its winners for 2020. The “banquet” was held virtually (supply your own buffet!) on September 30th. Forage Innovations (and previous to FI, Daniel Olson) clients have had a dozen champions and countless Top Ten placings in the last ten years.
The premiere forage suppliers for progressive dairies, Brevant (nee Mycogen) and Forage Innovations (and its main suppliers, KingFisher & Redtail) were clear leaders in the two corn silage categories. Brevant with only in-house competition up to now in the BMR category, will start to see some KingFisher (KF) competition in the BMR division in 2021!
On the standard corn silage category, KingFisher has had the Grand Champion for the last three years. In 2020, there were 6 KF/Redtail (RT) finalists in the top ten (including #s 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 10). Last year’s winner, KF54C10 placed 3rd and 5th. This year’s champion was KF43C40.
KF54C10was also the winner of the Quality Counts with the best uNDFom 12H over all the silages, BMR and standard. Many (Most?) of the KF/RT winners were raised in the Better Than BMR System.
Moving to the Haylage categories, YieldMax had 5 of the top ten in the Grass Haylage category including #2. Other cocktail mixes peppered the remaining 5 spots. The only reason there is a grass haylage mix is that the alfalfa companies got tired of us winning the alfalfa Haylage category!
This year the Alfalfa Haylage was won by, guess who?, a KF variety! Forage Innovation (FI) clients won high placings with FI-developed forage mixes in the Baleage category, also.
At Forage Innovations, we are always happy when our clients do well as they did again in 2020. Anyone can win once through luck. Sustained success year after year is a testament to our focus on quality, a unique selection process, and the quality of farmers that trust us with their seed decisions. FASB-winning forage quality is a result of planning. By working with our certified forage specialists, these talented farmers create a management plan that allows them to grow incredible forage year after year.
One metric that we at FI know is extremely important, Digestible Fiber (the product of the aNDFom multiplied by the percent of NDFD30) is not rewarded in the FASB. However, Digestible Fiber is an important fulcrum upon which we leverage in the creation of an Innovation Diet. When we look at the Top Ten in the Alfalfa Haylage, Commercial Hay and the Dairy Hay categories (all categories that grasses are excluded from), we see about 35% less Digestible Fiber than in the Grass Hay and Haylage categories. The Overall winner had 19.38% NDF with a respectable 57.78% NDFD30, but still only 11.2% Digestible Fiber. This type of forage is more like a Snickers Bar (and I love Snickers; however, I try not to live on them!) than actual ruminally beneficial forage.