Analyse silage to optimise ration formulation

After what’s been a challenging silaging season for many producers, knowing exactly what’s in the clamp will be key when formulating cost-effective winter rations to maximise herd performance.

Dairy Nutrition
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“Our analysis of customers’ silages across the country has shown that overall there is more energy and protein compared to 2022,” says ForFarmers’ Bruce Forshaw. “This may mean that producers can reduce the amount of bought-in protein in dairy rations, which will help to reduce feed bills and contribute towards meeting sustainability targets.

“But there are some results that are cause for concern, namely some high DCAB silages. This is caused by higher than usual potassium levels and lower chloride levels.”

He says that this may not make a huge difference to cows in the milking herd but can pose a problem for dry cows and can result in milk fever.

Second and later cuts also had a lower conservation index and a higher heating index, according to Mr Forshaw. “This indicates that later cuts are at increased risk of aerobic spoilage and heating once the clamp is opened. This is due, in part, to lower lactic and acetic acids, and higher butyric acid.

“Carry out a full nutritional and mineral analysis of silage and ensure that rations are balanced to give cows exactly what they need to maximise performance.

Mineral content of silage can catch producers out, so we recommend that all herds take at least one sample at the beginning of the season, particularly when formulating dry-cow rations.”

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