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Thursday 15 November 2018

Fodder fears as mould hits overheating silage pits

Mould problems are being reported as overheating occurs in some pits of silage that were harvested at very high dry matter levels during the summer.

Animal nutritionist Gerry Giggins said a lot of silage this year was harvested at dry matter rates of 35-50pc. "These crops bordered on hay," he said.

Normally silage crops come in at around 25pc dry matter. Mr Giggins pointed out that managing the pit face where high dry matter silage is being fed can be extremely difficult and problematic.

"High dry matter silage has a higher pH and higher sugar content. The shear grab for feeding is less effective, and heating at the pit face is common," he said.

"Where heat is present, moulds are forming, both visible and invisible to the naked eye.

"These moulds can result in a mycotoxin challenge to animals, resulting in lower performance, reduced fertility, and increased likelihood of lameness."

He urged farmers to use mycotoxin binders to overcome this problem. He said a greater focus on pit-face management will also be required when feeding high dry matter silage.

Mr Giggins also pointed out that the feed value per kg of the high dry matter silage harvested this summer could be double that of recently-cut silage crops.

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He said the daily intake levels required by animals will vary significantly as a consequence, and this will be a critical factor particularly for farmers who are short of winter feed and are currently compiling fodder budgets for the housing period.

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