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Choosing the right feeds to match this year’s silage

Finding the best feeds to match this year’s silage inevitably depends on how your own forage was made. But one thing applicable to every farm is the financial saving to be made by choosing a co-product to complement what you have grown.

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A regular supply of fresh brewers grains is available throughout the country.
A regular supply of fresh brewers grains is available throughout the country.
Choosing the right feeds to match this year’s silage

Two very different types of silage analysis may emerge from this year’s first cut, but Duynie Feed is confident it has costeffective co-products which could provide a perfect match for what has been grown on the farm.

Silage analysis so far this year has been widely variable, as some producers took a light cut soon after the cold and frosty April.

Others waited for bulk, leading to the expectation of a wide variability in first cut grass silage analysis, especially where those who waited were further delayed by rain.

Emily Keep, nutritionist for co-product specialist Duynie Feed, says: “This highlights how essential it is to have your own silage analysed, as a feed which complements one forage may be completely inappropriate for another.” This is demonstrated by Trouw Nutrition GB which has published their early analyses, but says once all results are in, it may end up reporting on two very different types of first cut silage.

Lower fibre Ms Keep says: “If we take their findings from the early analysis, those generally taken from the lighter, earlier cuts, it is no surprise to see that they are generally low in neutral detergent fibre.

“This is very significant for diet formulation and must be addressed, as it can lead to poor rumen health if not corrected in the diet.


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Emily Keep
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"This range highlights how essential it is to know your own forage protein, as it is critical to supplementation"

Emily Keep

Brewers grains

 

“Brewers grains are an obvious pairing for this type of silage.

They are an excellent source of fibre and have other nutritional benefits.

“As well as boosting rumen health and reducing acidosis risk, brewers grains also increase palatability and dry matter intakes.” It is also a feed which is widely available throughout the year, coming from numerous breweries across the UK and is suitable for feeding to dairy and beef cattle of all ages, and can also be beneficial in the diets of sheep, pigs and goats.

Perhaps less well-known is moist citrus pulp, another outstanding fibre source.

“The fibre in citrus pulp stimulates rumination, which is central to cattle health.

Saliva production is increased aiding feed buffering, raising rumen pH and reducing the risk of acidosis.

“Moist citrus pulp is a high energy feed with good keeping qualities making it excellent value.

When fed in combination with the protein supplied by brewers grains, this can be a cost-effective inclusion in most forage diets.

“With 24 per cent crude protein on a dry matter basis, brewers grains offer both ERDP and an element of bypass protein.”

As well as lower fibre, many silages so far reported also have lower crude protein.
As well as lower fibre, many silages so far reported also have lower crude protein.

Lower protein silages

 

As well as lower fibre, many silages so far reported also have lower crude protein.

The average of samples to date is 14.6 per cent in the dry matter, but the range is wide, running from as little as 7.5 to 22.4 per cent, as published by Trouw Nutrition GB.

Ms Keep says: “This range highlights how essential it is to know your own forage protein, as it is critical to supplementation.” Sources of syrup are available to cattle and pig producers across the UK including Loch Lomond Gold, Sedagold and Trafford Syrup.

These are enriched with yeast fragments, which is known to enhance digestion, and deliver high protein and energy to the diet.

These syrups have a protein content ranging from 23 to 35 per cent crude protein on a dry matter basis and an ME value of between 14 and 14.5 MJ/kg DM.

Ms Keep says: “All of these liquid products increase palatability and enhance intakes.

They will help reduce dust and bind together the individual ingredients in a total mixed ration, reducing selective feeding.”

 

Maize and wholecrop silage

 

Although grass silage analysis is awaited with interest, all of this season’s forages will need to be considered in winter ration formulation.

While grass silages stabilise rapidly, maize and wholecrop silages will change their digestibility throughout clamp lifetime.

It is therefore essential that regular sampling of maize and wholecrop silages takes place to maintain the correct balance within farm diets.

Starch content in these silages can also vary greatly depending on the growing season.

To help balance the potential of this variable starch supply, high starch feeds are available including potato products, biscuit meal and bread.

All of these products are good sources of highly fermentable energy which will increase the energy density of any diet.

The protein content of maize and wholecrop silages are generally low and can be supplemented by the inclusion of cost-effective protein based co-products.

 

Benefits of co-products

 

All rations must be formulated to the requirements of the individual farm needs including dry matter, protein and energy content.

Maximising full utilisation of home-grown forages is always essential but especially so at a time such as currently, when the cost of bought-in dry feeds is high.

Moist co-products offer many benefits including supporting the palatability of rations and enhancing both protein and energy content.

By improving the structural fibre of the ration, this can also have added health benefits.

“All of this can have a positive impact on broader aspects of health and performance.

And with an added cost benefit, when compared with mainstream feedstuffs, co-products can also have a positive impact on a farm’s profitability.”

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