Farmer Focus: Intrigued about first-cut silage quality

I am sitting here writing this having just completed our first-cut silage. The bank holiday weekend has seen temperatures get into the mid 20s, which has allowed us to do a 24-hour wilt.

We were aiming for 35% dry matter, but at times the lightest crops were almost blowing away as they were so dry. I am intrigued to see what the outcome is when we open up the pit in a month’s time.

This spring has certainly been a challenge, but I have enjoyed getting to understand how our farm deals with it and it has certainly been made evident by the yield variation across fields.

Some crops yielded poorly and I’m getting some samples done to see if there is anything sinister in it.

See also: Optimise second cut with aftermath nutrition

I think the main issue is simply the awful winter and spring we have had. As I was putting fertiliser on this evening I was pleased to see the aftermaths almost greening up in front of me.

Fingers crossed the moisture in the ground and a bit of sun will lead to a bumper second cut, as we will need to make up some bulk.

We will hopefully get maize planted this week if the weather stays dry enough. We tried to get both farmyard manure and slurry on the stubbles two weeks ago, but had to abandon ship as ground conditions wouldn’t allow it.

Away from the fields, I am pleased to say we got the green light for the grant funding on our shedding gate; one tool I really cannot wait to get up and running.

I will end with an irritation about the fertility indicator we are all encouraged to use, Pregnancy Rate. I found out this week that different software uses different indices when calculating submission rates.

Once again, when we are all trying to benchmark our performance, you find there can actually be significant variation depending on what software is being used to calculate the figure, so we are left pondering if we are at 23%, 30% or somewhere in between.

If anyone can shed any light on the matter then please get in touch @LowerWoodFarm.

Henry Wilson milks 225 Holsteins on a tenancy alongside his parents Jean and Chris in Alberbury, Shropshire. Cows calve year-round with milk supplied to Muller on a non-aligned contract. Focus is placed on good cow health, fertility and business efficiency.