Farmer Focus: Home-grown protein comes from quality forage

With the favourable weather conditions at the end of August, we were able to wrap up our 2021 silage season. Our second-cut red clover silage was harvested.

We aim for quality as this is targeted to in-lamb ewes leading up to lambing.

One of the fields was a multi species ley of mainly high-sugar perennial ryegrasses, red and white clover, with chicory and plantain present in the mix, reseeded in the end of April this year.

It was undersown with barley, oats and peas.

The first cut was taken for arable silage in mid-July. The aftermath was left to grow for four to five weeks. We target crude protein of 20%, a D value of over 70 and an ME of above 11. 

See also: How to become 100% protein efficient by establishing multi-species leys

About the author

Dafydd Parry Jones
Dafydd Parry Jones and wife Glenys, Machynlleth, Powys, run a closed flock of 750 Texel and Aberfield cross ewes and 70 Hereford cross sucklers cows on 180ha. Their upland organic system uses Hereford bulls, Charollais terminal sires and red clover silage, multispecies leys and rotational grazing.
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These have been sown on the farm for the past 20 years and have been a major part of the farm, which relies on home-grown protein.

We use our own machinery. First cut went well but then a minor incident with a small chain in the last three fields brought the whole system to a stop.

On the plus side, we were able to support our local contractor, who turned our very dry, well-wilted silage into bales.

I always enjoy silage harvesting. I share this enthusiasm with my daughter, but in her case the enthusiasm increases dramatically dependent on the size of the hired tractor.

But of course, reliable weather and no breakages is a significant factor to maximising enjoyment and reducing stress.

This is in contrast with shearing time, when I’m very happy to pay local contractors a fair wage, whatever the wool price, to complete the work.

At 6ft 2in, and with a slightly bad back, I’ve never experienced any fun getting the sheep shorn myself. My other daughter is keen to wrap the wool at the contractor’s pace, as she sees it as a good workout.

In a normal year, most farmers in Wales would need to finish their silage work and summer jobs before the Royal Welsh Show.

But unfortunately, it wasn’t to be again this year. Therefore, there are plenty of summer events to look forward to in 2022 – gobeithio (hopefully).