‘Silage quality can have a big impact on animal performance’

The quality of silage offered to animals can have a big impact on their production and performance, according to Sil-All’s Gordan Marley.

Recent independent trials carried out for the UK-based company show that silage crops treated with inoculant or additive products result in increased animal performance and enhanced farm profitability.

According to the companies Global Technical Manager, Gordan Marley, poor silage quality can result in reduced animal performance.

“Silage quality can have a big impact on animal performance, as was indicated in three recent independent field trials.

“The use of the Sil-All product resulted in a 5% increase in DMD, which in turn resulted in a 0.8-1.5L/day increase in milk production from a dairy herd,” he said.

Improvements to Animal Performance

  • Dairy feed intake increased by an average of 5.6%
  • Beef live weight gain by an average of 10%
  • Milk production by an average of 3.7%

Making Good Quality Silage

According to Marley, farmers can make good quality silage without the use of additives, but they will still experience benefits if they use these products.

“If you have a good quality silage you will still get an increase in productivity. You will always have a majority of spoilage organisms.”

These benefits include increases in Dry Matter Digestibility, protein availability and energy levels, this occurs through the process of better fermentation, he said.

Marley added that the quality of grass deteriorates from the day it is cut and the vast majority of losses in quality occur in the first four-five days following harvest.

“The vast majority of losses occur in the first four-five days of fermentation. The use of inoculants limits spoilage as they apply efficient bacteria to out-perform spoilage bacteria.

The quality of grass is always decreasing from the minute you cut the grass, the more the farmer can limit this the higher the quality of the silage produced.

He added that the correct fermentation is extremely critical during this period as 75% of the silage quality is attributed to fermentation and hygiene.

The Ensiling Process

The process of fermentation or ensiling starts at a relatively neutral pH, said Marley, this pH drops to 4 which represents a 1,000-fold increase in acidity, the use of additives increases the speed of this acidifying process.

Both good and bad bacteria are involved in this ensiling process and farmers should try and maximise the impact of good bacteria which will have a major impact on silage feed value, he added.

“The process of fermentation is bacterial driven, but there are also a series of bacteria, yeasts and moulds which have a negative impact on silage quality.

“These agents aim to return the nutrients to the soil, silage inoculants allow more effective bacteria to out muscle these bad bacteria.”

The Global Technical Manager added that the use of Sli-All’s inoculant range will be beneficial to the nutritive quality of the silage.

“All forages have hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin. The enzymes available in the Sil-All product allows for the release of additional sugars.

“These enzymes also act as a sub-straight for the formation of sufficient amounts of bacterial protein.

“It also partially breaks down the cellulose and hemicellulose in the plant increasing the nutrient value of the silage.”

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