Why the quality of first cut silage crop could pose big issues this winter
The sight of mowers, balers and silage harvesters in full flight over the past two weeks was yet another indication as to what a unique year 2018 has been.
Thankfully, on many farms, fodder deficits have now been significantly reduced. With grazing conditions continuing to remain good, the fodder crisis can hopefully be less of an issue than was previously feared.
While the supply of fodder stocks has been rectified, there still remains issues surrounding feed quality, mineral status and contamination levels of many silages.
Last week I noted fellow nutritionist, Brian Reidy commenting on the forage quality that he has encountered, particularly in relation to secondary fermentation or overheating in dry silage pits.
The difference in dry matter between silage made during the summer drought and recently made autumn silages, is as high as 40pc.
This equates to a suckler cow requiring either 42kg/day of a wet silage or 15kg/day of a high dry matter silage. There are many variables to consider when feeding either of these silage types. High dry matter silage, which is obviously a lot more prevalent this year will have a higher pH, higher sugar content and quite often a high NDF level.
When stored in a pit, this type of silage can be very difficult to manage.
The effectiveness of a shear grab is lessened and heating at the pitface is common. Where heat is present, moulds are forming, both visible and invisible to the naked eye.