Missouri Dairy Business Update  
Volume 8, Number 7
July 2008

What is a Fair Price for Corn Silage this year?

This August is the first corn silage harvest since commodity prices rocketed.  This is forcing everyone to rethink their old rules of thumb on pricing corn silage.  Below are some helpful tips and answers to questions:

Q:  What did it cost to raise a ton of corn silage in Missouri this year?

Q:  Should I use this number to price corn silage going into the ration?

A:  This is the price going into the silo.  Coming out of the silo or bag you will need to add 10% to 30% to compensate for the shrink from fermentation and spoilage.

Q:  What are some rules of thumb on pricing corn silage when buying or selling?
A:  Here are some rough rules of thumb:
Rule 1:  8 times the price of a bushel of corn:
Example 8 X $5.60/bu = $44.80

Rule 2: 1/4 to 1/3 the price of a ton of dairy quality alfalfa
Example 29% of $160/ton alfalfa = $46.40        

Rule 3: Cost of Production +10%
See costs above: $40.54 +10% = $44.59

Q: How do I estimate the tonnage of corn silage in a field?


A: Sample Weight Method  
A more accurate way to estimate yields is to weigh the corn plants from a portion of an acre (1/100th) in several spots of the field. To do this, determine row width, then cut corn plants in one row for a certain length according to row width in the following table:

Row Length

Row Width

32.50 ft.


28.75 ft.


27.50 ft.


26.25 ft.


Next, weigh the amount of whole corn plant material cut in pounds. Divide the pounds harvested by 4. That's the estimated tons produced per acre. Follow this method for several areas and average the results.
For example – If the row width was 30” and 32.5 ft. or row was cut and weighed 64 lbs., this field would yield 16 tons of corn silage /acre (64 divided by 4 = 16 tons).
In order to obtain actual tons harvested, weigh each wagon load or count how many feet of silage went into a silo after settling. If you know the silo size, how many feet of silage was put up and what the moisture was, silo charts can be used to calculate tons stored. Dividing stored tons by acres harvested will give you yield per acre.

Q: How do I adjust the price of silage to fit my situation?
A: See the Excel decision aid spreadsheets at:



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