Spring milk producers wanting to maximise milk from grazed grass, must also maximise silage quality, as there is often an need to supplement silage in early spring and late autumn.

If farmers make bulky, low quality ‘stemmy’ silage, milk production from this will be minimal.

However, if farmers can cut silage earlier and have an excellent first cut to supplement cows during lactation when needed and feed to maiden heifers, making a bulkier second cut to feed to dry cows, they will reduce their cost base as lower levels of concentrate supplementation will be necessary.

High quality bales are an excellent source of energy and protein if made at covers not exceeding 1600kgs/ha.

With quotas not an issue, there will be more milk produced this autumn, but if we don’t carefully plan for this, additional lactation days may be unprofitable.

If first cut is very advanced and quality is already poor, then make a conscientious effort to ensile a high quality second cut.

Key steps to making high-quality silage

Walking silage fields over the coming days is the essential prerequisite to making high quality winter forage, according to Teagasc.

The next job to be undertaken is that of booking the contractor in time.

But as Teagasc also points out, the production of high Dry Matter Digestibility (DMD) silage requires crops to be mown when seed heads start to emerge from the grass. If weather conditions are favourable then farmers should be prepared to harvest a few days early.

Prior to field work getting under way all pits should be suitably prepared, it says.

This includes the thorough cleaning out of silos and the completion of any required repairs in plenty of time. In addition all effluent channels should be cleaned and unblocked. The opportunity should be taken to empty effluent tanks at the same time.

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