Focus on quality not quantity
Published 06/05/2015 | 02:30
With increased grass output, Neil Boland has seen big changes in his approach to silage making.
"Ten years ago we would have been leaving the silage cutting until late June to maximise the bulk of grass that we were putting in the pit," says the Sligo farmer.
"But I began to realise that getting 16 bales to the acre was no benefit if my cows were still going to be thin in the spring.
"Now I'm making closer to six bales an acre, but the drymatter digestibility (DMD) is about 10pc higher. My cows, if anything, are getting too fat, and I have to restrict the silage.
"I'm using it over a shorter period, because my grazing season has been extended. I spent only €1,000 on meal during the winter, compared to nearly €5,000 back in 2012. Yes, that was after the real bad silage, but I'm also carrying a heavier stocking rate now."
Neil has also started baling more of his silage instead of pitting it all) since he switched his focus from quantity to quality.
"We're aiming for silage around 75DMD, so we need to cut it in May. To do that, we need really productive pastures that are growing plenty of grass in the spring.