The quality of silage made in 2015 has improved slightly on 2014 levels, according to Glanbia, but there is huge variation in samples submitted for analysis.

According to Glanbia, test results from over 3,000 samples and 2,000 farms indicate that the Dry Matter Digestibility (DMD) of silage samples tested in 2015 had improved on last year’s levels.

The average DMD for 2015 is 68% versus 66.5% for 2014, but it added there is huge variation in the range.

It says the bottom 25% of samples have a DMD of 62.1% while the top quarter have an average DMD of 73.5%, these ranges highlight the importance of getting silage analysed, it says.

As a result of the improvement in DMD levels, the crude fibre levels for 2015 are marginally lower while there has also been a small improvement in the net energy content which has increased by 0.1UFL.

Furthermore, it says that on average the silage tested this year is well preserved with an average pH of 4.2 and an ammonia content which is very similar to 2014 levels.

Silage analysis beneficial to farmers

Silage analysis can be hugely beneficial to ensure optimal animal performance, according to Gain Feeds Technical Specialist Willie Darmody.

Under or over-estimating the feeding value of silage without conducting a silage test can cost significant amounts of money to the farmer.

“A recent Teagasc survey confirms that a typical silage pit has a feed value in the region of €10,000. But if the forage is not analysed, then farmers will either underestimate or overestimate the amount of meal and/or silage required by stock in order to secure optimal animal performance.

He added that the results of Glanbia’s silage samples are inherently inconsistent in terms of quality with factors such as sward quality, cutting date, the weather and the time of ensiling all impacting on silage quality that is offered to stock.

The average Crude Protein (CP) for 2015 is 11.9% versus 11.3% for 2014, the lowest 25% have an average CP of 10.1 versus the highest 255 have an average of 13.7%.