Farmer Focus: Promising results from silage analysis

With all stock now housed for the winter we have stopped feeding big bale silage and opened our pit silage.

We started with first cut and it was sent for an analysis coming back at 29.9% dry matter, 12.9% protein, 11.5%ME and a D-value of 71.6.

We were happy with this quality and this will be feed to all growing and fattening cattle.

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Dry cows are getting restricted amounts of big bale silage, which is lower in ME and protein.

Restricting the silage to our cows is important as they have a lot of native genetics meaning they carry flesh easily.

Calving will begin in mid-February meaning we want to target a body condition score of 3 in our dry cows and heifers.

Last year we had a lot of calving difficulties with a Stabiliser and Charolais bull both of which have been culled.

Our heifers this year were served with an Angus bull and the cows with Hereford and our easy-calving Pirate-bred Charolais stock bull.

We have learned the hard way on our farm about the costs of difficult calving, from increased vet bills, increased stress on calves and ourselves to cows not going back in calf within the 10-week bulling period.  

Blood samples will be taken from a range of ages of cows and heifers to do a mineral screen to try to detect any low levels that could cause a problem at calving time.  

A few years ago this test showed we had low levels of iodine and selenium and this was counteracted with a selenium and iodine bolus.

I believe trying to discover these problems now and get them sorted is essential to trying to achieve a successful calving period.

Matthew Brownlee farms 121ha alongside his father. They run 100 Limousin-cross suckler cows and buy in store cattle to finish.