Why it's all about quality over quantity for this farmer with his first cut of silage
We took our first-cut silage on May 10, our earliest ever date for a first cut.
The reason we cut it so early is that I walked all the silage fields one afternoon and I felt that some of the fields were borderline of heading into drought conditions. If the weather continued hot and dry as it was the crop would actually shrink. So we mowed it down, tedded it out and picked it up the next day.
While the tonnage is back significantly, I would be very disappointed if the quality is not excellent. As in all things, there should be balance. If the tonnage is back but the quality is up, that's ok.
Looking back on the diets we used for the suckler cows last winter, when they were getting second cut silage of 70 DMD, they were getting 42kg/head but when we moved over to first cut of 77 DMD, they were only getting 28kg/head.
If you were to put that over the entire winter, that is a saving of around 400 tonnes of silage for us. Obviously we add in extra straw to the diet when we are using the better silage.
We no sooner had the silage in the pit and covered when the weather broke. This gave us a great opportunity to cover all the silage ground with 2,500 gallons slurry per acre. We followed this up a week later with three bags per acre of Cut Sward.
We still have 14 acres of first-cut silage to cut that we are allowing to grow on quite strong. This will be fed to the cows pre-calving, instead of hay, which is what we would usually have fed them.
Looking at the second-cut at the moment, its really powering ahead. So hopefully we will be looking at cutting that in the first week of July.