Some have been lucky to cut silage over the past few days, but nowhere near as much as would usually be cut by the end of May.
Usually any trip up north to Balmoral Show is greeted with after-grass returning in numerous fields up around the border. This sight was very scarce two weeks ago unfortunately.
Many are holding on for a big first cut of silage. Of course you need a full pit to get through next winter, but you also need to consider what quality you will have to feed.
It might be worth considering taking the first cut soon in order to get the second cut growing as fast as possible.
This decision may result in you being able to take a third cut.
This would result in maximising the amount of grass ensiled per acre.
Most will react to the previous statements with the usual, “it will cost me a fortune in contractor charges”.
I am sure most contractors will be open to negotiations in the current climate regarding the price of cutting silage if you are giving him the job of cutting three cuts as all three will be lighter than usual.
We all need to look at our options carefully in order to get through next winter.
No reserves of fodder exist and it will in reality take years to build reserves back up again. The whole industry must help farmers; without farmers there is no future for those supplying products and services to farmers.
Quality Silage is always the right Silage
Lighter cuts will be better quality resulting in less requirement for concentrates next winter, while also increasing the amount of straw that could potentially be fed to housed stock.
It may seem obvious but well preserved silage is also critical as we can ill afford any waste this winter. Well preserved silage does not just happen however. Fertiliser volume and application date plus cutting time and date determine preservation just as much as pit management.
Pit management at ensiling is something that needs a lot of care and attention. Filling pits too fast results in poor consolidation and more air in the pit causing spoilage. Pits should be sealed as soon as possible, once rolled sufficiently. An additive is also worth considering, but remember, it will keep good silage good, but it will not make bad silage good!
Grazing lush grass
Grazing very low covers of lush, high nitrogen grass is not ideal at any time but is common on many farms at present. It is almost unavoidable as most continue to chase grass around the farm.
Dairy farmers can measure the effect of this material with regular butter fat and more recently milk urea nitrogen (MUN) results along with assessments of dung consistency. Low fats indicate poor rumen function. However high nitrogen swards have also been linked to embryo death due to excessive ammonia nitrogen concentration in cows’ blood. So, try not to graze pregnant suckler cows on low, lush covers.
Loose dungs with bubbling also indicate poor feed and inefficient digestion which will result in underperformance of the stock affected
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