Inoculants ensure silage quality

Increasing wrap and fuel costs mean every bale of silage made must be as good as possible this year, so there may be a better case than ever for using an inoculant.

In trials undertaken at ADAS Pwllpeiran, Aberystwyth, ensiling baled silage with an inoculant will help reduce losses and achieve higher quality forage compared with untreated bales.

Treating grass silage with Volac’s new inoculant, Agros Dominator, resulted in a more efficient fermentation and hence improved silage quality, says Owen Davies of ADAS.

Grass silage at Pwllpeirian was ensiled at 27% dry matter following a 24-hour wilt.

The inoculant was applied at baling, with the bales carted from the field and wrapped at the storage area.

Bales were opened 17 weeks later and treated bales had higher metabolisable energy levels and digestibility.

Meanwhile, Raymond Jones of IGER says farmers should reconsider their silage making strategy this year, particularly where they have the option of making both clamp and baled silage.

“Losses from baled silage are far lower than from clamps, so it is often better to make the best silage as bales, then fill the clamp with lesser quality product later in the season.”

And when wrapping baled silage he says farmers should always use six layers of wrap to minimise losses.

“Six layers of wrap will reduce losses by about 15%. So while the extra two layers of wrap may cost about 50p, they should save about £3.75 when a bale of silage is worth £25.”

Mr Jones says when trying to maximise silage value inoculants can be particularly useful in preventing protein loss.

“Treated silage tends to have a different amino acid profile, generally having higher levels of histidine which means animals can make better use of the protein in silage.