Top tips: Producing quality feed Cut silage at three-leaf grazing stage (or just after) before it goes reproductive.
Conserve within 24-48 hours and seal well to ensure a good fermentation and minimise the development of moulds.
High quality palatable and sweet smelling feeds are usually cleaned up well. It isn't always possible but try to discard spoiled, mouldy or poorly fermented silage.
If using a mixer wagon to feed a partial mixed ration (PMR) in the paddock and the feed is drier than 50-60 per cent, consider the risk of feed wastage through losing the fine material.
Top tips: Feeding infrastructure Not everyone has a feedpad or feed troughs to feed out silage but those who do, or who are thinking about it, should consider these points:
Ensure feeders are an appropriate size to allow all of the feed to be reached and avoid feeders that make it easy for animals to back out.
Feeders in wet conditions can result in damaged pastures surrounding the feeder ring, which adds to the total wastage (pasture and fodder).
If troughs are used, aim to have their height at the natural grazing position of the cow, about 10-15 centimetres above the ground surface. Provide enough space per cow (at least 75cm/Friesian cow or belly width). More access is needed for restricted time periods compared with 24-hour access.
Smooth-bottomed feed troughs make cleaning easier. If troughs are not cleaned out there can be a build-up of feed that eventually becomes mouldy, and this can impact on intakes.
Top tips: Feed management Do not overfeed animals.
Regularly clean feed surfaces where possible and remove residual feed.
Avoid feeding out onto long pasture (although this may be a good option in wet paddock conditions).
If feeding out in the paddock, feed along fencelines or consider running an electric fence wire along the top of the windrow to reduce wastage from trampling and fouling.
Contact: Sam Flight, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article courtesy of Tassie Dairy News