How does your grass grow? This year we have seen a cold, slow start to the grass growing season, with many regions experiencing long cold dry spells in the UK. Snow has been seen across the country, just as cows are beginning to be seen in the fields. With the UK mean temperature in February at 4.1 °C, and March reaching a mean average of 6.1 °C, it’s only just warm enough for grass to grow, with rainfall down to 89% average in March, according to the Met Office.
Add to this, the increased cost of bought in feeds, with prices continuing to show an upwards trajectory for several months now, with little expectation of change, the challenge of producing profitable milk is ever more present.
So, if ever there was a good time to get the most value out of your home-grown forage it is now.
So how do you get more milk from forage? You make better quality silage.
We know that there are many variables and actions affecting silage quality, however essentially you are aiming to achieve several things: a good clean crop grown and harvested under good conditions, very well compacted and well-sealed.
Reducing the dry matter losses, retaining the nutrients and energy, and achieving less wastage in ensiling, all result in more milk production and growth from forage.
Increasing dry matter intake (kg/day) correlates with increasing daily milk yields, however there will be a number of factors affecting DM intakes, including forage quality, feed protein levels, stage of lactation and so on.
The target of around 30% DM after wilting for grass silage in the UK (sometimes higher in Western Europe), can be diminished during the fermentation process in the pit, loosing value. Imagine if you have 3000 tonnes of fresh grass in the field, brought to the clamp it could be around 70% water 30% dry matter. That means we have 1000 tonnes DM at point of clamping. The process of decomposition continues until fermentation is complete, using up valuable energy from the grass.
So, we start off with 1000 tonnes DM but after the fermentation process is completed, we might have only 700 – 900 tonnes DM left. If we could speed up the fermentation process, lowering the pH fast by increasing the speed of lactic acid production, we can retain more of the valuable DM, nutrients and energy in the silage, reducing wasted feed. This is where using a quality silage inoculant like Advance Grass performs, improving the fermentation process.
Minimising the DM loss in ensiled forage is vital when maximising the proportion of home grown forage in the ration.
If the TMR ration needs to achieve an energy density of between 12.5 and 13 megajoules for a high yielding dairy cow at peak lactation, being able to increase the level of metabolizable energy and crude protein in the silage will ultimately allow more milk to come from what you grow, rather than bought in feeds.
A quality crop-specific silage inoculant like Advance Grass, which includes a unique formulation of enzymes and bacteria, helps you to achieve more retained DM, more crude protein, less ammonia digestible NDF (dNDF) and more rumen available energy.
Results from our recent trials on Advance Grass shows dNDF increased by 3.48%, a reduction in dry matter losses compared to untreated grass, increased crude protein and lower ammonia levels.
Click here to see our Advance Grass Product Leaflet