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Multi-cut: Key to forage quality

Seasonal challenge Seasonal challenge5-5-2020

A multi-cut system, one where silage is cut more often throughout the season, may not suit all producers. But for those that can exploit the system, cutting between four and six times and typically every 28 to 30 days, it can increase forage quality and yield, and profitability. 

Harvesting grass more frequently, at lower covers, leads to higher digestibility and less dead material being ensiled in the multi-cut system. By improving the quality of forages used in the diet, the need for high specification purchased feed is minimised. 

Grass silaging

Chop length

Multi-cut systems target a D value of up to 75. This would result in an ME of approximately 12 MJ/kgDM and, as the crop is cut younger, it is likely to be higher in protein and digestibility. Because it’s lower in fibre, the chop length at harvesting may need to be longer at, for example, 5cm. However, chop length should be varied according to dry matter and quality.

If it is all young, leafy material and 32% dry matter, then at chop length of between 3cm and 5cm is ideal. 

If grass is between 28% and 30% dry matter, then a chop length of 5cm should be the minimum.

If it’s wetter and below 28% dry matter, chop length needs to increase – to as long as 10cm for grass with a dry matter as low as 22%.

Although the higher protein content of younger grass is a nutritional benefit, it can make the silage more difficult to ferment. Adding a silage additive will deliver a fast efficient fermentation. This ensures that as much lactic acid is produced, in a short a time, as possible and makes for a rapid fall in pH.

For more information

For more details on maximising your forage, multi-cut systems or our products and services please contact your local account manager or contact our forage team here.