Farmers keen to ensure that their cows will get the best out of the silage they have harvested in recent months should think about getting their silage analysed.

Silage analysis will be important coming into the winter as farmers will be soon begin to close paddocks and house stock.

The challenging weather conditions made the harvesting of silage tough for farmers in many areas, and therefore, ensuring that the fodder is high quality is essential.

Bruce Forshaw, product manager at ForFarmers in the UK said that insight into silage quality can help reduce expenses while maintaining productivity.

Forshaw said: “Our analysis of customers’ silage [stocks] has shown that overall there is more energy and protein compared to 2022.

“This may mean you can reduce the amount of protein you buy in, therefore lowering bills while also helping towards sustainability targets.”

Silage analysis

The benefits of getting silage analysed can not only identify the ways costs can be lowered, but can also be helpful in preventing sickness in cows.

In their silage analysis, Forshaw said that ForFarmers has discovered some results that “give cause for concern”.

“We have noticed some high DCAB (dietary cation-anion balance) silages which was caused by higher than normal potassium levels and lower chloride levels.

“This may not make a huge difference to cows in the milking herd, but can pose a problem for dry cows and can result in milk fever.

“It’s unclear why this year’s silage is showing raised levels.”

Second and later cuts this year, according to Forshaw, indicated an increased risk of aerobic spoilage and heating once silage pits are opened.

Analysis from ForFarmers indicated that this is, in part, due to lower lactic and acetic acids and higher butyric acid.

“The best advice is to get full nutritional and mineral analysis of your silage and ration exactly what your cows need to help them perform at their best while minimising waste,” he said.

“Mineral content of silage can catch you out if there is a change, so we recommend that all farms take at least one sample at the beginning of the season, especially when rationing dry cows.”

Forshaw stated that a full nutritional and mineral analysis of silage will help cows to perform to their best.