Farmers looking to produce heavier and better quality second cut silage need to focus on achieving a rapid lactic acid fermentation, according to experts. 

First cut silage on average is lighter this year due to the weather, with quality thought to be up. But lactic acid will be vital to both forage quality and quantity when feed clamps are opened this winter.

Speaking at the Livestock Event Dave Davies, director of Silage Solutions said there was no point growing the grass if it wasn’t preserved as effectively as possible. “The single most important thing farmers can do is ensure a rapid lactic acid fermentation,” he said.

Dr Davies stressed that high lactic acid levels in silage was not the cause of high levels in the rumen. “It is far from being a problem, lactic acid is an integral part of effective fermentation.”

An effective fermentation requires a rapid fall in pH and lactic acid helps deliver this better than any other fermentation acid. The rapid pH drop also helps preserve nutrients in the silage.

Dropping the pH below 4.2 stops activity of undesirable bacteria which are busy fermenting sugar. So the faster you achieve the drop, the more protein and energy will be left to feed the cow, he said.

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