Plan ahead to manage silage shortages

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

Rob Fowkes, nutritional advisor at Quality Liquid Feeds, explains that although the growing season has not significantly impacted silage quality, it has impacted on quantity.

“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,” says Rob.

“For instance, looking to replace a proportion of silage with a forage extender will prolong its use a little further into winter,” he adds.

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

When looking at this year’s silage results, Rob suggests 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 explains.

“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.

“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.”

In addition, Rob highlights that specific products, such as QLF HIPRO 40, which form part of the QLF ‘Timed Release’ protein range, have been developed to incorporate protein sources.

“This will further help increase rumen efficiency by supplying rumen micro-organisms with a constant supply of non-protein nitrogen. This is particularly important if you’re using straw, which is low in protein, as a forage extender.”

For more information please contact QLF on 01952727754.