FiveF Alka predicts high forage acid loading in TMRs this winter

Early forage analyses from FifeF Alka suggests that the acid loading effect of many grass and maize silages will be high within TMRs this winter.

Robert Cockroft from FiveF Alka commented that whilst many grass silages do seem to have a decent energy and protein level, many crops also have a set of characteristics that could make them difficult to utilise effectively in dairy cow rations this winter – with a low fibre index and high acid load being the key challenges.

Mr Cockroft said: “With high levels of fermentable carbohydrate, care will be needed when feeding these grass silages. Not only are they already strongly acidic, they are likely to digest more like a concentrate feed and create even more excess acidity in the rumen. In addition, maize silages look to have a similar set of characteristics.”

He explained that this underlying acid load is likely to act as an anchor on farms trying to cut feed costs unless it is addressed within a TMR: “It’s a real drag because whatever combination of increased yield or lower concentrate use is being pursued, success can only be achieved by increasing intakes and digestion of the forage components of the diet. And to do that you must limit the excess ration acidity load.”

FiveF Alka said that straightforward alkalisation of a TMR before it is fed to the cow simply addresses this issue. “For example, when added to damp forage sources, AlkabupHa pellets rapidly release ammonia to neutralise excess acid in the diet. Dietary inclusion will improve rumen performance and boost dry matter intake, as well as contribute extra protein and macro minerals to the cow ration,” Mr Cockroft explained.

FiveF Alka nutritionists also added that the net cost of using AlkabupHa will only be between 5p and 15p per cow per day, after allowing for the underlying protein and mineral value it contributes to the diet.

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