Forage budgeting – act now

With warnings of a forage shortage in some parts of the country, as well as some variable forage qualities, dairy producers are being warned to budget carefully and not wait until supplies are running dry.

“It’s tempting to live in hope that we get an early spring,” says Cargill ruminant nutritionist Philip Ingram. “But that’s a high-risk strategy because demand may be high, and you could be left with some poor quality forages – and high prices.”

“Work out what you have in terms of forages, what you need and what budget you have.  It may be worth feeding a few more kilogrammes of concentrate to make sure you have enough forage for the season.  But, for those who do have to buy supplies in, often big-bale silage, Dr Ingram warns that quality can vary and that there could be consequences for cows switching from one feed to another. His advice is to cost it carefully – based on the forage analysis, calculate how much the forage is costing per kg of dry matter.  “Doing this quick calculation will help ensure you are getting good value for your money,” he advises.

Getting the most out of the forage you are feeding is also important.  “It’s well worth considering adding a natural additive, like Amaferm, which has been shown to promote a more consistent rumen environment and settle digestion by increasing the uptake of lactic acid,” he explains. “This could be particularly valuable this winter.”

A proven fibre-breaking additive, Amaferm can also increase the feed value from forages by breaking down the plant cell walls and releasing energy that can be used in milk production.

“With more than 40% of the forage feed value locked in the cell wall, gaining access to this and making use of the valuable nutrients can be a very cost-effective tool in milk production.”

New data based on 37 trial reviews by Cargill shows that Amaferm can increase the feed value of forages by 8% and milk yield by 7%. The biggest milk yield benefit was seen during early lactation.  Out of those 37 results, Amaferm improved milk production in 80% of the cases and 100% of the cases for early lactation studies.

“It’s vital that producers know what they are buying and the quality of the forages,” he adds, quoting baled silages that can often vary from 18% to 45% dry matter, and with differences in size it easy to see how some bales can easily be twice as valuable as others.

“Consider the price per kilogramme of dry matter, and work out if an extra kilogramme of concentrate is more cost-effective and the benefit of adding Amaferm to increase the feed value of your forages. Using a feed additive like this to release the valuable nutrients in cell walls and settle digestion will help boost feed efficiency in the dairy herd.”


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About The Author

John Swire - Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.