Experts are warning that protein levels in this year’s silage crop are falling short of targets by two per cent, which could impact livestock performances.
In a recent update, results show that average crude protein (CP) levels in 2016 silage crops are 14.1 and 14.2 per cent for first and second cuts respectively, instead of the 16 percent producers should be aiming for.
Dr Davies suggests that the increasing cost of fertilizer could be to blame for the low CP levels.
He says: "Sufficient nitrogen is essential to boost protein in the grass but producers have tended to cut back on its application and consequently grass crops have been lower in protein. The problem is exacerbated by newer grass varieties, which are selected because they are higher yielding and therefore, require increased levels of nitrogen to sustain their crude protein concentrations”.
This winter, silage-based rations will require careful balancing, as Alltech European technical manager Dr Helen Warren explains.
She says: “to get the most out of silage this year, it is important that the diet is correctly balanced to deliver adequate rumen degradable protein (RDP), as well as rumen undegradable protein, and energy.
A sufficient supply of RDP is particularly important, as it fuels the rumen microbes enabling optimum feed digestion. While this can be supplied from fat-coated urea, Dr Warren warns that this form of non-protein nitrogen can be wasteful due to the sudden surge it supplies, and can even result in ammonia toxicity.