With unfavourable silage making conditions causing problems across the UK and Ireland, experts are stressing the importance of careful management and planning to overcome any potential issues at feed-out.
Anwen Jones, regional business manager for Wales at Lallemand Animal Nutrition, explains the cold weather that persisted well into spring, being followed by the wettest May on
Anwen explains for those with first cuts in the clamp, the priority will be pre-cut testing and walking grass fields regularly to make sure second cut is taken at the optimum time to complement existing first cut silage stocks. It is also important to check for molehills as these can cause soil contamination, fermentation disruption and waste during feed-out.
“Early first cuts were surprisingly high in sugar but very low in NDF with some quite wet. This may cause issues when feeding out, so I recommend taking second cuts at a slightly higher NDF level, at around 40% but crucially before the plant goes to head. By doing so, the two cuts will complement each other and reduce the likelihood of rumen health issues.”
For the first cuts just harvested, yields are heavier than usual with a much higher NDF level. Some clamps are overfull and would have been difficult to ensile due to the height of the bunker. Anwen says clamp management may need to be altered to account for this.
“Ensure you layer future cuts evenly instead of a wedge to allow a consistent supply of forage throughout the winter, providing access to the best possible clamp of silage at the time you need to feed it. There’s no point burying your best cut in the back with no way of getting to it, or in another location farm where you need to haul it home.
“With all this in mind, I recommend feeding late first cut clamps as a proportion of the diet all winter. This way you can utilise mature silage with other high quality
Adding to this, Lientjie Colahan, technical sales support at LallemandAnimal Nutrition, stresses the importance of using the right inoculant for the situation to help reduce waste and clamp losses.
“Because of the high level of rain some parts of the country have seen over the past weeks, and the risk in other areas of showers after grass has been cut, the silage is likely to be wetter with a high chance of soil contamination which could have a significant impact on ensiling.
“Certain inoculants, such as Magniva Grass Wet, are specifically formulated to work in wetter conditions. The higher dose of homofermentative and heterofermentative
“It’s been a challenging year so far, but if grass silage cuts are managed properly in the coming weeks with careful consideration to winter feed-out, farmers will be able to make up for any shortfalls.”