Make plans now to balance loss of silage quality

Dairy farmers are being advised to take steps to ensure their cow diets are not compromised over winter after silage analysis results show an overall decrease in quality.

Dairy Nutrition
Maize clamp - ForFarmers UK

Bruce Forshaw, product manager for ForFarmers said that analyses of first and second cut silage revealed that energy levels were lower than 2021, and there is more fibre. “Where this is the case it is useful to add a rumen modifier such as RumiBest to unlock the full potential of the silage.”

The Rapidly Fermentable Carbohydrate (RFC) figure was also lower this year. “They may therefore benefit from the addition of molasses. On the plus side they have a good heating index meaning that farmers are less likely to have as many problems with heating when you open up the clamp. Good clamp management is obviously still important though,” he said.

Results from analysis

The results from second cuts highlighted the need to ration cows properly, he continued. “Interestingly the metabolising energy is showing as higher, but MELK value, which is the energy that is actually available for milk production, is lower.

Wholecrop silage had performed better and had more milk potential this year compared to 2021, he said. “It has a bit more fizz to complement silage with lower RFC, giving it a bit of lift.”

Early results from maize crops suggested that volumes were down significantly with some growers reporting yields of 14t per acre compared to 17t in previous years. “Quality is Ok but there will be a gap in the clamp, so some might like to consider adding a moist feed to bulk it out.”

In response

Bruce recommends that all farmers have their silage analysed so that cows’ diets could be balanced accordingly to meet their needs. “Once you have your analysis you can ration properly with good rationing software like our Feed 2 Milk programme.

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