8 November 1996

High acids and protein alert

SILAGES that are wet and more acidic, or those that have high crude proteins will need careful balancing in cow rations, warns Genus nutrition consultant Andrew Marlow.

"Silage protein is rapidly available in the rumen so at high levels there is a risk of protein wastage and increased blood ureas that can cause infertility and lameness," he says.

In some cases high proteins may also cause scouring and a low fibre diet can contribute to this. To enable this protein to be used in the rumen, feeds high in fermentable energy (FME).

Highly acidic silages tend to be low in fermentable energy so will also need supplementing with feeds to balance the ration.

"Firstly analyse your silage for there is a big range in feeding quality this year," says Mr Marlow. "When feeding complete diets compensate for acidic or high protein silage with a high fermentable energy feed such as wheat which is cheap this year."

When feeding concentrates only in the parlour he warns producers that, given the higher protein silages a lower protein high FMEcake may be needed.