28 April 1995

Go for a rapid wilt

NEW rapid wilting techniques can improve animal performance and silage intake according to the latest research at Hillsborough.

But producers must be prepared to ted grass once or twice to get dry matter up to 28-30% within 24-30 hours, insists researcher Tim Keady. "If the crop is not wilted correctly the potential gain that was there before the technique was considered, will be lost."

Pit conditions must also be correct and good management at ensiling and feeding-out are essential. "Dry silages are more prone to aerobic deterioration, which shows as losses in palatability, intakes and animal performance," he says.

"In most situations, producers leave two 10ft swards on top of each other. This will result in little (1%) or no change in DM concentrations, but the grass can lose feed value if left mowed down for long periods, due to respiration."

Mr Keady recommends mowing late morning when the crop is driest and then spreading at least once, and preferably twice. Crops with potential yields over 30t/ha (12t/acre), he adds, are hard to wilt, as effective drying becomes impossible with such a volume. &#42