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38
Forage & nutrition
Guide 2018
various trials, Lactobacillus plantarum MTD-1 (as found in
Ecosyl) has also been shown to:
»
Improve silage metabolisable energy ­ by an average of
0. MJ/kgDM
»
Improve silage digestibility ­ by an average of 3 D units
»
Improve DM intakes ­ by an average of 5%
»
Most importantly, MTD-1-treated silage has also been
shown to improve milk yield by an average of 1.2L per
cow per day (15 trials, various forages). If you assume 200
days of feeding silage, based on that extra 1.2L of milk
produced per cow per day, that's an extra 240L.
»
From experience, a good quality additive will protect
feeding value and deliver an excellent return on
investment, such as more milk or live weight gain, in the
majority of situations ­ provided it is applied properly and
grass is cut at the correct stage of growth. With average
herd sizes increasing on Irish farms post quota, silage
quality and quantity are becoming more important
OTHER STEPS TO MINIMISING LOSS
Other steps to get right in the quest to minimise silage losses
include how grass is handled when filling the clamp, and
how well the clamp is managed. As mentioned already, good
consolidation to squeeze out air is key. If you trap too much
air in the clamp you reduce fermentation quality and increase
aerobic instability problems (heating and waste) at feed out.
You can only really efficiently consolidate the top 15cm. So
layers should be no greater than this depth during clamp
filling, before being compacted and the process repeated with
the next layer.
Pay particular attention to the edges, which are more difficult
to consolidate, and avoid over-filling the clamp. Once
consolidated, sealing the clamp effectively is vital to stop
air/oxygen ingress, which is essential for fermentation and
aerobic stability. After sheeting, always put as much weight on
top of the clamp as possible. That top weight maintains better
density in the weakest part of the clamp, which is the top.
Remember also to pay attention to the ramp. As well as
sheeting the rest of the clamp correctly, ensure there is at
least half a metre of extra silage sheet at the front of the
clamp, and weight it down well all around the edge.
The cleaner the clamp area, the better. Mouldy silage or dirt in
front of the clamp will contaminate the silage with undesirable
bugs ­ potentially reducing quality and intake. If you do have
any spoiled silage, discard it. Never mix it with good silage. As
well as being of poorer quality, it can also adversely affect the
rumen.
To take silage out of the clamp, use a shear grab to maintain
a smooth clamp face. This reduces the amount of air that
gets in so there is less risk of aerobic spoilage (heating) which
can cause losses of nutrients and potentially production of
mycotoxins. For the same reason, move across the face quickly
to reduce the time that silage is exposed to air.
Also at feed out, avoid pulling or cutting the top sheet back
too far once the clamp is opened, and make sure you keep the
front edge weighted down. However, also avoid pulling the
sheet back down over the clamp face, because this creates
conditions that encourage yeast and mould growth, increasing
the risk of spoilage and heating.
In summary, making high quality silage and managing the
clamp properly can go a long way towards maximising animal
performance while reducing concentrate costs.
CASESTUDY­TJBREEN,DAIRYANDBEEFFARMER
OnefarmerwhoisstrivingtogetmorefromgrasssilageisTJBreen,whorunsadairyandbeef
enterprisewithhisbrotheratScullabogue,Newbawn,Co.Wexford.Inadditiontoexpandingboththe
dairyandbeefsidesofthebusiness,theBreenshavebeenaimingtoreducetheirexpenditureon
concentrates,whilenotsacrificingtheoverallnutritionalrequirementsoftheherd.
Aswellasmovingthecuttingdateforfirst-cutgrasssilageforwardfromJunetoMaytoimprovequality
bycuttingbeforegrasscomesintohead,theyhavealsostartedusinganEcosyladditive.Sincemaking
thesechanges,thebrothershavenoticedanincreaseinenergycontentanddigestibilityontheirsilage
analysis,increasedDMintakes,increasedmilkyield,increaseddailyliveweightgaininthebeefherd,and
achieved less silage waste.
"We started cutting a bit earlier to get better quality silage when
theweatherpermitted,"explainsTJ.
"Ifyoufeedbettersilage,yougetbetterresults.Theadditive
hashelpedtoo.There'sadifferenceinfeedvalueand
the cows seem to eat more silage and look in better
condition. There's also less waste on the silage.
"Previously,weusedtotrytogetmoresilagebulk.
But you have to get a happy medium between
quantityandquality,"headds.
Wexford-basedfarmer,TJBreen,with
Volacforagespecialist,NoelMcGrath.