27 March 1998

Antrim familys secret of silage success

ALL-ROUND excellence, efficiency and effective management is why this years British Grassland Society national silage competition has gone to a Northern Irish dairy farming family.

David and Gloria Wallace, and their son Alan, who farm 93ha (230 acres) at Ashdale Farm, Carmavy Lane, Antrim, produce 1700t of silage a year from three cuts to feed their 110 high-indexing Holstein-Friesians and 135 youngstock.

Silage on the farm is cut from mid and late season perennial ryegrass swards, and timing is crucial, explains Mr Wallace. "We cut silage early, let it wilt, get it in fast and seal the clamp within a day, with additive used on the first cut as an insurance policy."

Their silage analysed at 33% DM, 12.0 ME, crude protein of 14.6%, D-value of 75% and pH 3.9.

The 100 cows in milk at Ashdale Farm in January yielded 25.8 litres from 35kg silage, 8kg whole-crop cereal and 2-7kg 21% protein concentrate. Average yield is 7511 litres, with fat at 4.09% and 3.21% protein.

According to one competition judge, John Bax, dairy specialist at SACs Crichton Royal Farm, silage on the winning unit was excellent quality, and was well used, with cows producing almost 5000 litres from forage.

Runner-up in the competition, held in association with ADAS, SAC and Kemira Fertilisers are Colin and Harry Nicholson, who farm 77ha (190 acres) at Castiles, Grantley, Ripon, North Yorks.

The north-facing farm is 230m (750ft) above sea-level, and supports 118 dairy cows with 84 youngstock and 166 ewes. Average milk yield is 7440 litres a year, at 4.04% fat and 3.22% protein.

Again a three-cut system is used, producing 1100t of silage analysed at 28% DM, 12.3 ME, crude protein of 16%, D-value of 77% and pH of 3.8. This is fed in a complete diet at about 47kg a head, along with 6kg moist grains, and 6.25kg mix of citrus pulp, maize gluten and Sopralin mixed on a daily basis, with nothing fed in the parlour. This ration produced about 27 litres a day from the 120 cows in milk in December. &#42

SILAGE WINNERS

&#8226 Good quality silage.

&#8226 Clamp management.

&#8226 Well thought out system.