9 March 2001

FOCUS ON FORAGE

ENSURE FORAGE APLENTY

Poor quality silage and low supplies have caused plenty of problems for many livestock producers during the past winter.

While, in most cases, there was little that could be done to avert this situation, those who suffered the costs of poor animal performance and extra concentrate feeding will be making sure this seasons forage is in plentiful supply.

Ensuring that this objective is achieved calls for an element of planning. And making sure that all forage machinery is in good working order is perhaps the first step. We take an in-depth look at the finer points of mower maintenance and, for those considering making their own silage, we list the points to consider when purchasing a second-hand forage harvester.

We also take a look at the increasing popularity of springtine harrows and the part they now play in pasture care and rejuvenation. Conventional balers come under the spotlight as we provide a buyers guide for these essential machines.

Machinery prepared, producers will have the usual dilemma of choosing a balance between yield and quality of grass silage – according to one expert in this Supplement, higher digestibility silage can have a dramatic influence on animal performance.

Producing a higher quality silage or using some additives, he says, can encourage stock to eat more and that must be included in calculations for how much is forage needed next winter.

And, once the first cut is in the clamp or bale, it will be time to assess whether extra forage, such as whole-crop, will be needed. How to get the best from whole crop silage – time of cut, ensiling techniques and the machinery to use is a key feature in this latest issue of our Focus on Forage.