How do you ensure that you achieve good quality silage from now until the crop is harvested and sealed in the silage pit?

Siobhan Kavanagh of Teagasc says it’s vital to monitor the development of the crop regularly in the weeks leading up to cutting.

To produce high DMD silage, mow the crop when seed heads start to emerge from the grass, she says.

Kavanagh says that this is safer than targeting a particular calendar date as every year is different. Silage DMD declines by 2.5-3.0 units every week in late May / Mid June, she says.

“In harvesting the silage crop, only mow the grass if the job of harvesting and ensiling can be completed. Mow after the dew is gone, its easier to dry the dew off the standing crop than a mown crop,” she says.

Good silage preservation is important as poorly preserved silage could lose up to 5% units of DMD, Padraig O’Kiely of Teagasc says.

  • Only attempt to wilt a crop if it will be genuinely drying while on the ground. A successfully wilted crop will preserve properly.
  • Avoid overwilting as dry matters over 30% won’t improve animal performance.
  • If using an additive, ensure the full rate of an appropriate product is applied evenly.
  • Harvest the grass free of contamination by dirt.
  • Fill the silo quickly and seal perfectly (or wrap bale perfectly) in order to achieve the air-free conditions that are necessary for good preservation and to prevent mould growth.
  • Ensure any effluent can quickly escape from the silo and is safely collected.

Pits must be filled and sealed quickly, once started. Too often the filling and compacting of the pit does not get the attention it deserves, Kavanagh says.

Ask you contractor to roll it well as this will help dispel the air and create the best atmosphere for preserving your silage, she says.

Seal the grass beneath two sheets of black 0.125mm polythene. With walled silos, run vertical sheets down along the inside of the wall and fold these over the top before covering with the two sheets.

Inspect the polythene cover periodically and patch any damaged areas, she advises.