For most farmers, grassland management forms the basis of a successful enterprise. Indeed, with margins so fine, it can be the difference between profit and loss.
Having a good plan in place for both grazing and silage is paramount to ensuring expenditure on concentrates is kept to a minimum.
Whether it’s a finishing system, dairy or suckler herd, having a quality control plan in place can save you thousands of euros in the long-term. After all, grass is the cheapest form of feed available; it’s just a case of maximising its potential.
For those of you finishing cattle indoors, having the best quality silage can help reduce days-to-finish while also cutting the costs of concentrates.
Cost of making baled silage
A recent Teagasc study looked at the cost of making baled silage. It found the cost, ex-VAT, amounting to €25.50/bale including fertiliser, plastic, mowing and baling. This is significant, particularly considering the poor quality of a lot of silage on our slabs.
Wastage on top of that adds a significant chunk to the cost, so preservation, careful handling and knowing your grass is the highest quality available to you is paramount.
Most of our business centres on bale haulage and bale stacking. It’s essential that any spoilage is kept to a minimum, as any tears on the plastic immediately leads to spoiling of the bale, which if unchecked can leave it inedible.
To keep this to a minimum, ensure you have proper handling equipment, and check your bales after stacking for any traces of holes. These should be patched up immediately.
Getting sugar levels right is also important; the month of May offers the highest sugar value, so cut early (allowing sufficient time for fertiliser absorption of course) and preserve correctly. You want a high-quality feed, with high levels of Dry Matter Digestibility (DMD).
An area we also focus on here at Moran Agri Services is grass tedding, where freshly cut silage is shaken out of the rows and allowed to wilt.
This not only reduces the wilting time from your typical 48 hours to 24, but also dramatically increases DMD. Teagasc confirms that ‘tedding out swards and wilting for 24 hours will help increase the dry matter of the silage to approximately 27-30%.’
It works by reducing water retention in the grass leaf, leaving a higher fibre feed source for your stock.
Ideally, cutting in late-afternoon, tedding and then baling 24 hours later gives you the best quality available from the sward.
HF Super Silage
So how can you increase the quality and your rate of bales/acre? This week’s focus looks at HF Seeds’ Super Silage mixture.
This intensive silage mix is specifically designed for 3 or 4 cuts and includes varieties that prioritise yield, sugar and fibre.
Elyria and Diwan are two components used. These are high-fibre energy seeds. Elyria is an intermediate perennial ryegrass (IPR) of the diploid variety.
Diwan is a tetraploid, boasting exceptional yields throughout the season, and strong resistance to disease. It also offers a better dry matter yield than standard grass varieties, and its late aftermath heading qualifies it for grazing purposes also.
Seagoe exhibits excellent yields with high forage quality. This variety is a tetraploid IPR, with excellent early spring and mid-summer growth. It is also suitable for grazing.
Yield, persistency and ground cover are all form part of Boyne’s contribution to the mix. This IPR diploid ensures high-quality summer cuts, good disease resistance and higher DMD.
Toddington is one of the best late heading diploids, offering higher yields than many tetraploids, especially in the first cut. Its inclusion stimulates a denser sward, giving you a better return per acre.
Kintyre is an essential component in long-term dual-purpose leys, with excellent grazing and cutting characteristics. A late tetraploid perennial ryegrass, this gives exceptional yields in both first and second cuts, while the high yields for after-grass in late summer offers the farmer an attractive grazing option.
Alfonso - a Late Perennial Ryegrass of the tetraploid variety - is also included, standing out in Teagasc trials for its very good DMD.
HF Seeds also includes a white clover cutting blend to add extra density to the mixture. For reseeding with this mixture, an application rate of 15kg/acre is recommended.
With such a variety of diploid and tetraploid ryegrasses available, this seed truly packs a powerful punch. As with all our mixtures, they can be tailored to an individual farmer’s personal requirements.
Don't cut corners
Rates of inclusion can be increased, decreased or eliminated to suit your system.
For a blend that is designed for fast regrowth and quality, leafy silage, Super Silage certainly meets the standard.
When it comes to silage, don’t cut corners. Having a quality product that maintains the health and condition of your stock doesn’t have to be a luxury.
In fact, when assessing wastage and poorer returns from fertiliser, investing in new pasture really makes economic sense.
For more information, contact Moran Agri Services on Facebook, or email - firstname.lastname@example.org