On the recent ‘Let’s Talk Dairy’ webinar Stuart Childs, dairy specialist with Teagasc spoke about the control of silage effluent and planning for second cut.

By now the majority of farmers have harvested their first cut silage and this grass is now in the silage pit.

But the work to preserve the forage for housed period is not over yet; between now and opening the pit, unfortunately, a lot can still go wrong.

Silage effluent

During the webinar Stuart suggested that at this point farmers should inspect the effluent flows and ensure they are not blocked and that the effluent has been diverted.

The reception tank for the effluent should also be inspected to ensure that it has adequate capacity.

The later than usually spring on most farms means that many farms have more slurry in tanks than usual, so a tank that would usually be empty at this time of year might still have slurry in it.

Tightening covers

One of the major advantages of bales, is that once they are wrapped they are wrapped until you open them.

Silage pits require some further management – a pit will usually sink after a number of days so the covers will need to be tightened to ensure the best seal is achieved.

You should continue to inspect the pit regularly to ensure an airtight seal is achieved and maintained – increasing you chances of having a high quality forage.

Second cut

According to Stuart, reports suggest that yields from first cut silage this year have been “huge“.

So farmers need to begin planning for second cut silage. Most farms only have one silage pit – if the first cut achieved a good yield will you have enough space for second cut in the pit?

Stuart suggested that farmers complete a fodder budget at this point to determine if the silage pit has capacity to hold the second cut.

With the good weather holding for now, a smaller second cut may allow you to decrease the stocking rate on the milking platform or reseed an underperforming paddock.

Finally does your farm now require extra silage storage? Since 2011, the national herd has experienced a 31% increase – up until 2020 – with dairy cow numbers growing from 1,144,826, to 1,570,180.

Most farmers have invested in new cubicle sheds and or milking parlours with the winter feed storage being forgotten about.

Now is a good time for farmers to access if extra storage is required and if so, how much is needed.