Farmers are taking first cuts of silage earlier and decreasing cutting intervals of subsequent cuts, according to the results a grass silage-making survey.
The research, conducted by Germinal and Volac, surveyed 187 dairy farmers in December 2017 and revealed 89% aimed to increase their milk from forage, with 64% believing grass silage is more important now than in previous years.
The survey found 80% of farmers were taking three or fewer cuts, but 60% of respondents said their first cuts have become earlier over the past three years and 44% reported shortening their cutting intervals.
This move to earlier and more frequent cutting is often referred to as “multi-cut”.
“We are clearly seeing a significant shift towards a more progressive approach to grass silage-making among UK dairy farmers,” said Germinal GB’s Ben Wixey.
“This shift to multi-cut appears to be working for these early adopters,” added Mr Wixey.
The survey found that of the 44% of farmers who had switched to shorter cutting intervals, 92% were seeing improvement in quality of grass silage, with 54% saying quality was much better.
Volac’s Derek Nelson highlighted that the system won’t suit every farm though and it does require attention to details on factors such as:
- Autumn grass management
- Cutting times
- Not overwilting
- The fermentation process
- Chop length
- Consolidation and clamp management
- Feedout and fibre supplementation