Preventing the flow of oxygen into the silage is important because oxygen increases dry matter (DM) loss, increases the number of yeasts and molds (and the possibility of mycotoxins) and allows the growth of undesirable aerobic bacteria.
The goal should be to prevent as much oxygen from getting in the silage as possible during the entire storage and feedout periods.
It’s not just a matter of doubling up the layers of plastic either to prevent oxygen from getting through. Traditional white-on-black silage plastic with a five-mil thickness has an OTR of 1,811, while oxygen barrier film with a 1.8-mil thickness has an OTR of 29.
For comparison’s sake, it takes 60 sheets of regular plastic to equal the protection provided by one sheet of oxygen barrier film.
Information on OTR rates should be available on all silage plastics. When you make your silage plastic purchase this year, ask what the OTR is and ask to see independent laboratory test results.
The goal is to select a product that provides as close to 100 percent oxygen barrier protection as possible.