This year's high dry matter silages more prone to spoilage
One positive that can be taken from the fodder scarcity earlier this year is that most farmers were focused on producing forage for the winter and building up reserves that were badly depleted. Now that we are into the feeding season, an important area to focus on is the proper management of the forage pit to ensure minimum wastage.
Throughout April and May farmers were urged to look at forage alternatives and cereals that would bolster their feed supply. The options I promoted were forage maize, wholecrop cereals, cereal grain and root crops. In most cases, these crops were grown very successfully and are now supplying high quality, cost-effective alternatives to grass silage.
Forage maize, especially crops that were grown under plastic, exceeded expectations in terms of yield, quality and ease of harvesting. This was all a result of the fantastic growing season.
Typically, good maize silage would have an analysis of 25-30pc dry matter, 10.7-11.1 ME, 24-30pc starch and 7-9pc crude protein. However, this year, average analysis is showing dry matters exceeding 34pc and starch levels as high as 40pc. Analysis such as this helps to explain the benefit of maize silage in a beef ration.
With these starch levels, maize silage should replace significant amounts of concentrates in finisher diets.
High dry matter and high starch content maize is also a perfect complement to wet, leafy grass silage, which is quite common this year.
One challenge that high quality maize silage will pose is its stability at the pit face during the feeding season. The combination of high dry matter and high grain content means compaction at the time of ensiling was difficult.