Make the most of grass silage

Grass silage is one of the most important resources on any dairy unit, and the ability to produce the right volumes of high-quality silage will have a significant impact on both herd and overall financial performance.

Knowledge
Dairy

Producers should take time to consider the upcoming silaging season and review 2022’s silage results and identify areas for improvement this year. Now is the time to undertake any clamp maintenance work and check that all sheeting and weights required to effectively seal clamps are in good condition.

When considering cutting dates, producers should aim to cut grass at its nutritional peak. Cutting leys when they are younger will improve grass digestibility. Digestibility reduces by 0.5% per day after heading, so cutting grass one week post heading could increase concentrate requirement by 1.5kg per cow, per day.

Once grass is in the clamp, consolidation is crucial. Producers should ensure that adequate time and machinery is dedicated to achieving good results. To achieve good consolidation, 30% dry matter grass, added to the clamp at a rate of 100 tonnes per hour, will require 25 tonnes of machinery to continually roll it. Poor clamp management can’t be ‘fixed’ by using a silage additive, but it can help to improve fermentation and silage quality, and reduce losses.

To maximise silage yields a regular reseeding plan should be in place, where between 20% and 25% of leys are replaced each year. Deterioration of swards will see energy yields per hectare fall, which reduces the amount of milk from forage and increases purchased feed requirements.

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