Much to everyone’s relief, the good weather eventually arrived this spring even if it was 3-4 weeks late. Although first cut grass silage was generally good quality, there wasn’t much of it about.

Silage results are showing some encouraging trends, but as always, averages can be misleading. A 5% increase in DM from 30.8% to 32.4% in 2012 to 2013 (table below) respectively should support good forage intakes and help rumen stability. However, drier forages can encourage sorting, so be aware of silage chop length and ration uniformity. A healthy and active rumen will maximise forage digestibility, dry matter intake and hence milk yield. Compared with 2012, D value and ME are 2% higher this year; average ME is 11.0 this season, compared with 10.8 MJ/kg DM last year.

There are still large variations in silage quality, with the lowest energy forage resulting in 3.4l/h/d less milk than the average, and the lowest DM forage at 13.8% (actual forage ME of 9.8 MJ/kg DM) requiring an extra 41.6 kg FW to achieve the same 10 kg DMI as the average, or an unachievable 81.3 kg FW intake to deliver the same energy intake as the average.

The key points from the silage analyses are: –
– First cuts are good quality with high intake potential
– This year’s forages will be more digestible than last
– High dry matters will increase the possibility of sorting and therefore rumen health issues

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