Now is the time of year to measure how much forage you have and whether or not it is enough to feed your stock through the winter.

There is still time to plan a third cut, but only if you plan ahead now according to Michael Garvey from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Northern Ireland.

There are two key things a farmer must do when trying to calculate how much silage they actually need to feed their stock through the winter according to Garvey.

The first important step is to first measure the volume of silage they have in the pit. This is easily done by multiplying the length by the width by the height.

To convert the volume of the pit to silage tonnes multiply the silage volume by the relevant number in the table below depending on the percentage of dry matter of the feed.

Conversion factors to convert silage volume to tonnes of silage

table 1 silage

Calculate your forage requirements for the winter ahead now!

The next important step according to Garvey is to estimate the amount of monthly silage requirements for the different classes of housed livestock.

Estimated monthly feed requirement of stock eating 25 % dry matter silage

tabel 2 silage

To calculate the silage requirement on your farm this winter multiply these figures by the number of stock in each class and then multiply by the number of months you normally feed silage, this will give a total tonnage of silage required.

“If you haven’t enough silage in stock, you can estimate how much land you need to close off by planning a third cut. A third cut will produce 10 tonnes of silage per hectare after seven weeks of growth,” said Garvey.