Autumn silage cuts seriously important this year

For many farmers, autumn silage will have a more important part to play than usual in next winter’s herd performance.

This arises, of course, from high rainfall in March and the first half of April, and the impact on first cut timings, yields and quality.

One unpredictable factor in mid-to late season cuts is dry matter content, when a spell of hot sunny weather can easily push it above 30%. While this more or less guarantees good fermentation, problems often arise with heating up – causing major losses of nutrient value – when the clamp is opened.

However, struggling to make third and fourth cuts in between showers of rain is just as likely, when getting any meaningful wilt is a forelorn hope. Low sugar levels in autumn grass add to the challenge of making well fermented high nutrient silage rather than spinach puree.

Inoculant for all seasons

In both scenarios, an additive that has proved itself to an increasing number of farmers is OptiSile EXTRA. For rapid preservation even in difficult conditions, it contains the gold standard Lactobacillus plantarum in combination with two other bacterial strains.

In addition to a strong lactic acid fermentation, this formulation also generates vinegar – acid, a proven inhibitor of moulds, yeasts and Clostridia bacteria. All of these are known spoilers of silage through either butyric fermentation or heating up when exposed to fresh air.

So whether your autumn silage turns out to be wet, dry or ideal, this inoculant for all seasons offers a good investment in helping your summer and autumn silage cuts generate the high cow performance you need next winter.

Maize and wholecrop versions based on same principles

Exactly the same factors, of course, apply to making good wholecrop and maize silages. At the Parkinson family’s Liscoe Bank Farm in north west Lancashire, partner Tommy explains that 60 acres wholecrop and 70 of maize are crucial to the 200-cow herd’s 11,000kg/cow performance.

During storage and when opened, he says both crops last year showed “zero spoilage anywhere in the clamp…we were really impressed.”

Further south at Tunstall Farm in Staffordshire, Roger Cooke says their high dry matter maize silage “performed really well and stayed cool with very little waste.”

In addition to good silage making technique, the wholecrop and maize versions of OptiSile were instrumental in producing these two examples of high performance forages.