Swards that were grazed prior to being closed off are producing silage of a significantly higher quality than those which were earmarked for conservation from the get-go, according to Glanbia’s Martin Ryan.

There is a tremendous variation in first cut silage quality this year, he said.

“We are seeing results from farms where DMD values would normally be well above 70 coming in well below this figure.

“But there is a consistent trend now emerging from those farms where cattle had been given access to silage ground in the early spring. A significant number of dairy and livestock farmers within our catchment area took this approach in 2016.

“The resulting grass was cleaner and, given the shorter growing period, the swards were better placed to produce higher quality forages, from a silage making perspective.”

Ryan said that laboratory-analysed first cut silage samples submitted over recent weeks had DMD values ranging from the mid-60’s up to the mid-70’s.

Where proteins are concerned, the figures are ranging from 9% to 15%. These are on a dry matter basis.

Ryan said that Glanbia is expecting the vast bulk of the silage samples it will sample this year to be submitted over the coming days.

“But we are also hoping to speed the process of silage analysis up for many of our customers, courtesy of the NIR analysers now available to our advisors. In essence the machines can test forages in real time.

“The decision taken to invest in the new technology follows an extensive trial period, which has confirmed that the analysers will deliver results as accurate as that which can be achieved courtesy of laboratory analysis.”

According to Ryan, the NIR analysers will test for DMD values, protein levels, pH and ash content.

“The farmer has immediate access to the results, which can be quickly printed off.

“The NIR machines can be used with equal precision, on grass silage, forage maize, wholecrop and brewer’s grains.”

Ryan confirmed that Glanbia staff will take the samples required for the NIR analysers and depending on size, 8 to 10 cores will be taken per silo.