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Forage & Nutrition
Guide 2018
be present. Aim to wilt as
quickly as possible to an
ideal target DM of 28-32 per
cent, but no longer.
In good conditions, you
may be able to achieve this
in fewer than 24 hours. To
reduce wilting time, make
effective use of mower-
conditioners and tedding.
But make sure tedders and
rakes are adjusted correctly
to avoid them hitting the
ground and risking soil
contamination.
Using the optimum chop
length is crucial when
harvesting grass, because it
has a big impact on how well
it can be consolidated in the
clamp.
It's important to remember
that silage is produced
when beneficial bacteria
ferment some of the
sugars in the grass into
lactic acid. This `pickles'
the grass, preventing the
growth of spoilage micro-
organisms and preserving
the nutrients. However, a
good fermentation requires
that air is removed from the
clamp, and the quicker you
can achieve this, the better.
Too long a chop makes it
more difficult to squeeze the
air out, particularly at higher
DM. But, too short a chop
can also cause problems.
So, as well as keeping knives
sharp, ensure they are
correctly adjusted according
to the crop DM.
As a rule of thumb, grass
with a higher DM requires
shorter chop lengths.
However, if grass silage is
being fed as part of a high
maize diet, chop length
may need to be increased
to ensure there is sufficient,
effective fibre in the diet.
ADDITIVES
A quality additive doesn't
just help preserve the
forage. Trials across a
range of forages have
shown that treating with a
proven additive containing
beneficial bacteria in
the form of Lactobacillus
plantarum MTD-1 as
contained in Ecosyl can do
much more.
Across 15 grass silage trials,
DM recovery with MTD-1
was boosted from 91.8 per
cent to 95.5 per cent of the
original material ensiled. In
other words, less of the silage
was lost during storage.
Put another way, if 1,000
tonnes of DM were originally
clamped, this would have
equated to having an extra
37 tonnes of silage available
to feed. That alone would go
a long way to paying for the
additive. In addition across
37