The economic damage that results from aerobic deterioration of silage is a significant problem for farm profitability and feed quality. This paper quantifies the dry matter (DM) and nutritional losses that occur during the exposure of corn and sorghum silages to air over 14 d and assesses the possibility of enhancing the aerobic stability of silages through inoculation with lactic acid bacteria (LAB). The trial was carried out in Northern Italy on corn (50% milk line) and grain sorghum (early dough stage) silages. The crops were ensiled in 30-L jars, without a LAB inoculant (C), with a Lactobacillus plantarum inoculum (LP), and with a Lactobacillus buchneri inoculum (LB; theoretical rate of 1 × 106 cfu/g of fresh forage). The pre-ensiled material, the silage at silo opening, and the aerobically exposed silage were analyzed for DM content, fermentative profiles, yeast and mold count, starch, crude protein, ash, fiber components, 24-h and 48-h DM digestibility and neutral detergent fiber (NDF) degradability. The yield and nutrient analysis data of the corn and sorghum silages were used as input for Milk2006 to estimate the total digestible nutrients, net energy of lactation, and milk production per Mg of DM. The DM fermentation and respiration losses were also calculated. The inocula influenced the in vitro NDF digestibility at 24 h, the net energy for lactation (NEL), and the predicted milk yield per megagram of DM, whereas the length of time of air exposure influenced DM digestibility at 24 and 48 h, the NEL, and the predicted milk yield per megagram of DM in the corn silages. The inocula only influenced the milk yield per megagram of DM and the air exposure affected the DM digestibility at 24 h, the NEL, and the milk yield per megagram of DM in the sorghum silages. The milk yield, after 14 d of air exposure, decreased to 1,442, 1,418, and 1,277 kg/Mg of DM for C, LB, and LP corn silages, respectively, compared with an average value of 1,568 kg of silage at opening. In the sorghum silages, the milk yield, after 14 d of air exposure, decreased to 1,226, 1,278, and 1,250 kg/Mg of DM for C, LB, and LP, respectively. When the estimated milk yield per megagram of harvested DM of corn and sorghum silage were related to mold count, it was shown that the loss of potential milk production occurred when the mold count exceeded 4 log cfu/g of silage, and it was almost halved when the mold count reached values greater than 8 log cfu/g of silage. Inoculation with L. buchneri, at a rate of 1 × 106 cfu/g of fresh forage, enhanced the stability of the silage after exposure to air, and, consequently, contributed to maintaining the nutritional value of the harvested forage over time, for air exposure up to 7 d.
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