5th June 2017 | News
The early warm spring weather has brought about the possibility of higher quality silage being made this year if it is successfully managed.
Analysis of over 600 samples by Agri-Lloyd, as part of their pre-cut grass audit service, found average crude protein levels were up from 20% in 2016 to 22.5% in 2017, with energy levels fractionally higher at 12.02 ME.
If silage is well fermented then this could see higher protein grass silage this winter, says Agri-Lloyd’s dairy product manager James Ireland.
“The higher protein is down to the season being 1-2 weeks earlier this year compared to last year."
“We’ve seen protein levels as high as 27% in grass samples sent in in April due to the young grass, with levels now down to about 20% as the crop is bulkier with less physical quality.”
Results also showed fibre and yields to be consistent with last year.
Dry matters are slightly higher than what would be expected with an average of 20%, which Mr Ireland puts down to the warmer weather.
“In hot conditions, then a wilting time of only 8 hours may be needed instead of 24 hours. However, some farmers may have been leaving the crop to wilt for too long to achieve an ideal dry matter of between 28- 32%.
“Silage that is too dry won’t be as appealing and won’t encourage high dry matter intakes required to achieve high milk yields, so you need to be careful,” he warns.
The key to getting a quality end product is getting a good rapid fermentation, says Mr Ireland.
“If you get a good and rapid fermentation then you will preserve more of the protein and energy going in the clamp and reduce dry matter losses. This will help save money on bought in feeds this winter.
“HM Inoculant can help get a rapid fermentation, which will preserve more of the energy and protein in the silage and reduce dry matter losses,” he adds.
“We have some customers who are cutting 12ME grass and can make near enough 12 ME silage.
“The results show that the quality of the grass being cut is good this year, so as long as the fermentation is right, then we are on track to produce a high energy and high protein silage.”
Mr Ireland encourages farmers to use the pre-cut grass check service, which is available free of charge to any farmer making silage.
“It will help inform you when the best time is to harvest and allow cutting decisions and wilting length discussions to be had with your contractor.
“You can send samples in any time from 10 days prior to cutting up to a day before with results emailed within 24 hours,” he adds.