Dale Farm highlights link between silage quality and feed efficiency

Dairy cooperative Dale Farm recently hosted three on-farm workshops and two evening meetings on the subject of improving silage quality to enhance feed efficiency.

The aim of the events was to encourage farmers to consider halfway through the winter-feeding season how their cows are performing and whether their winter diets need to be tweaked.

Over 200 farmers attended the events which gave an overview of current silage quality as well as several other factors which influence silage intake and feed efficiency.

Also Read: What should I feed my calves during the cold temperatures?

Dr. Dave Davies of Silage Solutions Ltd gave a practical demonstration looking at silage fermentation in the pit.

He highlighted the importance of proper pit filling and compaction and silage additive choice.

Recent research carried out by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) on silage pit variability was the hot topic, with discussion around why farmers in GB are turning to multi-cut silage systems.

Talking about the event, Neville Graham, head of farmer services at Dale Farm, said: “Our aim was to help farmers prepare for the 2019 silage season.

“We wanted to encourage farmers to measure and manage by undertaking soil sampling ahead of the spring season, to evaluate the nutrient content of soils in silage fields and develop a nutrient management plan for first-cut silage, and also think about cutting date and ensiling techniques to improve the 2019 silage crop.”

Managing input costs

Dale Farm recently launched a ‘margin over purchased feed’ recording programme in autumn 2018, giving its network of farmers the ability to monitor their milk production against feed inputs.

Neville added: “Our feed recording programme, available free of charge to Dale Farm suppliers, allows users to monitor their milk production against their feed inputs to establish a level of feed efficiency for their dairy herds. Enhancing feed efficiency ultimately depends on grass and silage quality.”