Dairy farmers adopting a progressive multi-cut approach to silage making are reaping the benefits through improved forage quality, according to a UK-wide survey being reported by Germinal at Royal Welsh Grassland in Pembrokeshire.
In the survey of over 180 dairy farmers, over 40% had shortened their cutting intervals in the last three years. Of these, a significant majority (92%) reported either much better or slightly better grass silage quality as a result.
“The fact that the early adopters of multi-cut silage making are seeing an improvement in forage quality is entirely logical,” says Germinal’s Helen Mathieu. “Cutting grass earlier in the season and at shorter intervals will mean it is closer to optimum D-value at the point of ensiling and should therefore result in a higher feed value forage. We estimate that this could amount to as much as an extra 1MJ/kg of energy in many cases – so 12MJ/kg ME silage instead of 11ME – which sets the platform for increasing milk production from forage.”
Ms. Mathieu points out that to maximise the benefit of a multi-cut silage approach dairy farmers should be routinely reseeding their leys, using the best available varieties from the Recommended Grass and Clover Lists. It is also important to ensure all other elements of the silage making process are carried out with a ‘best practice’ mindset.
Germinal was demonstrating a specialist grass silage mixture formulated to suit ‘multi-cut’ systems at the event. Comprised exclusively of high-ranking Aber High Sugar Grass perennial ryegrasses, Aber HSG 2 Multi-Cut is designed to produce large quantities of leafy high-quality silage from frequent cutting during the period of peak grass growth.
A balance of diploid and tetraploid varieties, with a tight spread of heading dates, Aber HSG 2 Multi-Cut provides the essential elements of high D-value and outstanding silage yields, plus good ground cover and persistency, to ensure consistent performance over a 6 to 8-year period.
Extra investment in grass silage making will pay dividends, according to Germinal, as the extra feed energy in the clamp – which allows savings in bought-in feed – will boost milk from forage and underpin a more sustainable dairy business.