OMAFRA report

A weekly report prepared by the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). If you require further information, regarding this report, call the Elora Resource Centre at 519-846-0941.  Office hours: 8:30am to 4:30pm.  For technical information, call the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or visit the OMAFRA website:

Grain corn harvest

In many parts of the province, 2019 proved to be a challenging year to get crops in the ground in a timely fashion. The impacts of spring conditions are still felt as we approach harvest and there are concerns about reaching levels of physiological maturity or quality necessary for grain corn harvest.

Alternative harvest and feeding options for livestock should not be overlooked as a solution. High moisture corn products make excellent feed for livestock, especially ruminants, but the success of using these feedstuffs is dependent on management related to harvest timing, processing, storage conditions and feeding.   

High-Moisture Corn

High moisture corn is a nice feed ingredient for livestock producers. The benefit of high moisture corn is that it can be harvested earlier, does not have to be dried and has similar energy and protein levels as dry corn. High-moisture corn can be harvested at 24 to 36 per cent moisture (optimally 28 to 32% for proper fermentation) and must be ensiled in upright silos, bunker silos or silage bags. Sealed storage is the best option to reduce spoilage.

From a feeding perspective, high-moisture corn has similar energy and protein content as dry corn but generally has higher digestibility and is more palatable. Finer grind size and higher digestibility increases risk of digestive upsets such as acidosis and this feed ingredient must therefore be managed accordingly.

Cobmeal or Snaplage

Cobmeal, also known as high moisture ear corn or earlage, is closer to corn silage in terms of the way it is stored and fed. This feedstuff must be ensiled and is primarily fed to ruminant livestock.

Cobmeal is made up of the grain and cob portion of the plant and may include some husks and stalks. It is typically harvested by combine like high moisture corn, but with the combine set to also retain cob. The extent to which husks and stalks are included depends on how it is harvested.

Snaplage is a similar product that is harvested with a snapper header on a forage harvester and includes corn grain, cobs, and husks.  Optimal dry matter at harvest is 65% to reduce risk of seepage and spoilage during storage.    

The energy level of cobmeal typically falls in between that of corn silage and high moisture corn.  Nutrient specifications will vary depending on harvest method, maturity of corn, and other growing conditions.  As with other feedstuffs, it is important to test through laboratory analysis before feeding out.

Higher maturity and increased inclusion of the shank, husks and stalk will decrease the energy density of the feed. However, the addition of the shank, husks and stalk have the added benefit of containing effective fibre, which helps protect the rumen from acidosis, and increasing overall tonnage captured during grain harvest operations.

Corn Silage

Corn silage is the obvious alternative to taking off grain corn, however the harvest window for corn silage is less forgiving due to constraints associated with necessary moisture levels for storage. Corn silage must be ensiled to allow for proper fermentation, either through permanent structures or temporary silage bags.

This article was written by James Byrne, Megan Van Schaik and Ben Rosser. For more entire article visit