‘Plan ahead to manage silage shortages’

Despite results suggesting this year’s silage is good quality, farmers are being encouraged to plan ahead to help manage any shortages.

Nutritional advisor at Quality Liquid Feeds (QLF) Rob Fowkes explained that while the growing season has not significantly impacted silage quality, it has impacted on quantity.

He said: “Farmers are concerned that they won’t have enough silage to see them through the winter. However, there are steps that can be taken now to help overcome any potential shortfalls.”

Replacing a proportion of silage with a forage extender will prolong its use a little further into winter.

However, Fowkes warned that if farmers are taking this approach, they need to be mindful of the overall nutrient supply in the ration and consider whether or not additional supplements need to be included to help meet the cow’s requirements.

Buffer feeding

When looking at this year’s silage results, he has suggested using straw as a forage extender.

“Straw is an excellent source of long fibre which is particularly useful as this year’s silage has lower than ideal fibre levels,” he said.

However, given that straw is relatively unpalatable, indigestible and low in protein, it needs balancing with a suitable supplementary feed source to encourage intakes and promote rumen fermentation.

Continuing, he said: “Protein molasses-based liquid feeds are ideal for this as they provide a source of rapidly fermentable carbohydrate, in the form of sugar, which is utilised by rumen microbes to enhance rumen function.

“It’s also one of the single most palatable feedstuffs for ruminants, encouraging intakes and reducing ration sorting, maximising overall feed efficiency.”