1 October 1999

Grass specialist questions silage

THINK of number one and do not let others steal your profit was the message from grass consultant Carol Gibson speaking at a Spotlight on Profit forum.

Reciting a poem she wrote herself, Miss Gibson told producers attending the forum that silage-making can be a costly process, and grazing grass is cheaper.

"I am not anti-silage but when cows graze grass no-one else makes any money out of it, bar you, whereas with silage there are other costs, such as machinery needed to make it and feed it."

Some of these costs can be avoided by grazing more grass, but Miss Gibson understood why producers found it difficult to make the transition and go into winter without a big heap of silage to use as feed.

Her advice for producers making the change was to graze grass and graze as much as possible, and silage only what is necessary.

"When you are confident you do not require as much silage for winter feed because cows are grazing for longer, then you can cut nitrogen use or increase cow numbers."

Ode to Silage-making

You cut it and then you rake it,

Pick it up, and then take it

In air-conditioned comfort back

To pile it high into a stack.

O help us, bother, please forgive,

I clean forgot the additive.

So then you drive all over it

With sheets of plastic, cover it.

Then tyres too, half filled with water,

All hands on deck (including daughter).

Now in suspense, you wait awhile,

And it ferments there in a pile.

Then open up and add things to it,

Mix it, feed it, them cows then pooh it.

And so, you scrape it and collect it.

Store it, load it, cart and inject it.

And calmly then, you wait for rain

To grow some grass and start again.