Check silage quality to ensure ME needs are met
WITH variable quality grass silage in clamps, feed suppliers at the Dairy Event were advising producers to find out exactly what quality silage they have got and ration accordingly.
Results from 1200 first-cut analyses by ADAS shows average ME values are lower than in previous years. This may be because of continued grass growth over winter, said Bruce Cotterill, ADAS chief nutritionist. "By the time this grass was cut, mature grass in the sward base led to lower energy silage. There is also more variation in ME for second cut."
The results show protein levels are average, fermentation is fine and samples are relatively high in dry matter. "Intakes will be fairly good but producers are going to have to find some extra ME to make up the shortfall," he said.
Most feed suppliers at the event agreed, although some voiced concerns about silage palatability.
Dalgetys Keith Jamieson warned that low sugar levels could mean poor intakes unless producers add other feeds, such as maize silage, brewers grains, concentrates or molasses.
KW Alternative Feeds Dave Forster agreed, and reckoned that since silage quantity was not a problem, intakes should be maximised by feeding a high energy product to stimulate forage intake. "Brewers grains will be competitive this year, with prices about £20-£23/t. Molasses products will increase energy fed and improve palatability, so should be considered. A blend such as Vitagold will help energy and protein levels, costing £33-37/t this year."
Cane molasses products were favoured option of Amanda Huggett, Cargills sales office manager. "Last season they were expensive, but will be competitive at £82/t for pure cane molasses, with discounts for cheaper versions.
"Where starch energy levels need boosting, cornmeal bypass at £90/t delivered, subject to availability, is on a par with processed wheat and there is a 7% benefit in terms of dry matter," she said.
Other ways of boosting starch energy levels were on offer from KW Alternative Feeds.
"Sodawheat is caustic-treated wheat delivered straight to farm as finished feed for £80-£90/t. We will buy cereals on specification from producers and deliver back processed feed," said Mr Forster.
"Another alternative would be processed bread, produced from misshapen and left-over loaves. It offers higher levels of energy than wheat and can be purchased for £50-£60/t depending on location."
• Analysis vital.
• Lower ME.
• Consider supplements.
Lower energy grass silage and variable quality second cut means producers must focus on supplementing to ensure ME requirements are met this winter.