best rule for fire-damaged feed may be, "Assume the worst
until proven otherwise." Damage to feed may come from
heat, water, chemicals, smoke or the fire itself. In some
cases, you may have a total loss; in other cases, you may
be able to salvage all or part of your feed. But for the safety
of your animals, either dispose of or test any suspicious
feed. If you feed contaminated, moldy or otherwise damaged
feed, you risk lowered production, illness or death in your
animals. t the least, animals may refuse to eat feed that
has been charred or has an odor.
silage must be unloaded because:
Overheated silage has lost its nutritional value.
The top layers of wet silage may spoil or be unacceptable
Any missed hot spots may reignite.
damage and fire damage. Silage that has been heated
above 150 degrees F. loses much of its nutritional value.
Charred silage also will have little feed value; cows may
not eat it, depending on taste or aroma. In some instances,
cows actually eat more heat-damaged silage to try to compensate
for the lost nutritional value. To determine quality of
overheated silage, send it to a feed testing laboratory.
Silage below the fire level will not be damaged and will
not lose any nutritional value.
damage. Silage saturated with water may mold and spoil
because much of the preserving acid produced during fermentation
has leached out or been diluted. The nutritional value of
the saturated silage is reduced and the cows may refuse
to eat it. Consider spreading it on land as a fertilizer.
Be aware that metal, lead paint, nails from the roof
or other debris may have fallen into the feed during firefighting.
Disposing of grain may be your best option if debris has
compromised the feed.
or burned feed. These have been oxidized and, therefore,
nutritional value has been reduced. Animals most likely
won't eat these feeds. Dispose of them or spread them on
fields as fertilizer.
feeds. It may be difficult or impossible to dry wet
grain or hay naturally. If these feeds are readily available
and clean (no chance of chemical contamination or fire-fighting
debris), feed them to livestock. Recognize that wet feeds
may have only a few days of "shelf life" before
spoilage occurs. Otherwise, spread them on fields as fertilizer
or dispose of them.
hay. Small quantities may be dried naturally if broken
apart. Larger quantities are generally a loss because of
the difficulty of drying. Hay quickly spoils when wet-and
moldy hay may be dangerously toxic to animals. If possible,
spread hay on fields as a fertilizer or dispose of it.
Your county agricultural agent, your veterinarian, forage testing laboratories
"Extinguishing Silo Fires," (NRAES-18), Northeast Regional Agricultural Engineering Service.
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