What to do with your silage test results
Silage analysis have been coming back at a steady pace for the past number of weeks and are reading poorer than would be expected.
The last week of May and the first week of June was probably the best spell of weather of the year and ideal conditions for first cut silage.
However, despite this, most analysis of silage cut in this period are reading 4-5pc units lower in Dry Matter Digestibility (DMD) than you would expect.
Typically, we would expect silage cut around May 25 to be reading in excess of 70pc DMD, but this year these silage results tend to be in the region of 67-68pc DMD. In the first three weeks of May we had a huge surge in growth rates with many farms recording average growth rates in excess of 100kgs/ha.
This meant many silage fields were growing at a rate of more than 150kgs/ha and this seemed to bulk up silage crops very fast in this period which inevitably led to a high proportion of stem in the crop thereby causing the drop in DMD.
Is 68pc DMD silage good enough to feed the dry cow over the winter months? If we look at table 1, we see that if a cow has a body condition score (BCS) of 3.0 or greater and is offered 68pc silage ad lib, then she will calve down at the correct BCS of 3.25 assuming she is dry for an eight-week period.
However, if she is thinner than this, then she will require some intervention of an extra few weeks dry and some supplementation also.
If we take the example of a cow with a BCS of 2.5 who is due to calve in the first week of February, then she needs her holidays straight away.