Some dairy farmers do not have enough silage made to see them through next winter, according to Teagasc’s George Ramsbottom.

The Teagasc Dairy Specialist said that many of the dairy farms that have undergone rapid expansion over the past couple of years may struggle when it comes to having enough winter feed this year.

And, he said given the current low milk price, 2016 will not be a year for dairy farmers to go out and buy silage.

Managing with a silage shortage

Speaking at a recent Teagasc Managing Through 2016 farm walk, he said there was a number of steps farmers can take to ease some of the burden of not having enough winter feed.

Ramsbottom advised farmers who do not have enough silage to consider selling surplus stock, such as cull cows, empty cows and heifer or any other non-productive animals.

He said that selling empty cows in the early autumn will increase the amount of grass available for the rest of the cows.

He also said that farmers should consider spreading extra Nitrogen (N) during the remainder of the summer in a bid to make extra baled silage.

George Ramsbottom speaking at the farm walk

George Ramsbottom speaking at the farm walk

The importance of high-quality grass

Ramsbottom also said that feeding quality grass between now and the end of the year should continue to be a priority on dairy farms.

Farmers should target letting cows into paddocks at a pre-grazing cover of 1,400-1,500kg and grazing heavier paddocks could result in a fall in milk solids production.

Grass quality has a strong influence of milk protein content. Every 4% drop in grass dry matter digestibility results in a 5% fall in milk solids production.

The Dairy specialist also discussed the return on investment from feeding meal to cows at grass.

“The response to meal feeding is quite low at 0.6L of milk for every 1kg of meal fed.

At a concentrate cost of €250/t, feeding cows 1kg of meal will result in 16c return from a cost of 25c/kg.