Surplus grass – What should you do with it?

High grass growth and soaring store prices have seen the grass covers on many dry stock farms increase.

What should you do if you have excess grass but you have already made your silage?

A large number of farmers may be tempted to sell their store lambs or cattle. These farmers will be left with a lot of grass and a low stocking rate, so what can they do with extra grass?

Padriag O’Kiely, Teagasc Grange, recommends that farmers take heavy paddocks out for silage.

Farmers have already stock piled large quantities of feed for the upcoming winter, explained O’Kiely.

“There has been a lot of hay made over the last couple of weeks so there should be no shortage of feed this winter.”

O’Kiely added that any farmer with a shortage of winter forage should definitely take out extra grass as silage and this should be made a priority.

This will also improve grass quality in the next rotation. Grass is currently growing at a rate of 60-76kg/ha/day.

“In a lot of cases grass has gone beyond grazing quality.”

“If any farmer is in a position where they are short of feed they should consider taking a cut of silage when growth rates are good.”

Growth rates tend to hold well into July but fall dramatically in August so now is the best time to make use of any surplus grass, he said.

He also urged intensively-stocked farmers to keep a war chest of winter feed for bad years.

“The quality of silage will not deteriorate if it is made correctly. The most important thing is that there is no air getting into the bale.”

The smallest pin hole could have a detrimental effect on the quality of silage especially if it is intended to be stored for a long period of time.

If there is no damage to the plastic and air flow is limited then grass silage can be stored indefinitely.

Farmers should also increase the number of wraps/bale. Farmers who intend to hold silage for the winter of 2016 should use six wraps instead of four to aid the storability of the silage.

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