Lallemand Animal Nutrition
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Jan 27, 2020

Keeping silage clamps cool, reducing forage waste

Jan 27, 2020

When your system is geared to turning home produced feeds into milk, forage efficiency is a key business objective. For the Daniel family from Lower Rillaton Farm, near Callington in Cornwall ensuring effective fermentation and good stability is the foundation of their silage making.

Jack Daniel runs the 350 acre farm with his father Chris and his sons Matthew and Alex. The farm is home to 160 all year round calving cows averaging 8000 litres at 4.68% fat and 3.69% protein and the cropping is geared to feeding the stock on the farm. The cows are housed at night all year and graze by day in the summer. In addition to 230 acres of a mix of permanent pasture and grass reseeds, there are 30 acres of maize, 30 acres of wheat and 60 acres of barley which is fed with a 25% double-mineralised protein concentrate. Diets are developed with Matt Dymond from Harpers Feeds and the cows are currently on 25kg grass silage, 10kg maize silage, 2.5kg treated wheat, 2kg of a soya:rape blend, straw, minerals and 5kg of bought-in fodder beet. This TMR gives M+16 litres with the barley:protein mix fed to yield through the parlour.

Silage waste increases costs

“Our focus is on making the best quality silages we can as the basis for the ration,” Jack explains. “We also want to ensure that we feed as much as possible of the crop that goes into the clamp. Waste is just a drain on the business, pushing up costs.”

Around 140 acres of first cut were taken in mid-May as they like a bit more fibre in first cut. Second cut of 110 acres was taken in late June with third and forth cuts being baled. The family cut and rake the grass, before a contractor chops and clamps it. Chris Daniel rolls the clamp alongside the buck rake as they want good consolidation. First cut analysed at 27% DM and 11.8MJ ME/kg DM while second cut came in at 32% DM and 11.1MJ ME/kg DM.

“Feeding grass all year round we are after a rapid fermentation and a stable product as it takes us a week to get across the face in the summer and the clamps are outdoors and exposed to the elements.”

They used to use a competitor inoculant on the grass but had problems with high acid load so for the last three years have used Lallemand Animal Nutrition inoculants – Biotal SuperSile on first cut and Biotal Axcool of the drier second cut. This year they will move to the new Magniva range of silage inoculants for grass. Maize has been a central part of the system for many years and was drilled in mid-April under plastic. It was harvested in early October and treated with the new Magniva Platinum Maize inoculant.

Reducing silage heating

Magniva Platinum Maize contains a unique combination of bacteria,  L. buchneri and L. hilgardii which during silage fermentation quickly produce a number of antifungal compounds that significantly reduce the yeasts and moulds that cause silage heating, improving immediate aerobic stability, meaning clamps can be opened safely much sooner. They also improve longer term aerobic stability, protecting the silage while the clamp is open. By significantly reducing the populations of both yeasts and moulds, the antifungal compounds produced by the Magniva inoculants reduce the main cause of the clamp heating and losing energy as well as reduced silage palatability.

“Stability is really important for us,” Jack continues. “It takes us 4-5 days to work across the face and we don’t want to see the silage heating as this is just wasting energy and increasing our costs. We had concerns this year as we had a wet September and there were signs of Fusarium which might have caused the clamp to heat up.”

Steve Symons from Lallemand Animal Nutrition recently took Infra-Red photographs showing no signs of silage clamp heating across the face demonstrated in the image below.

cool silage

“The Magniva Platinum Maize is keeping the clamp really cool, ensuring more of the energy gets into the cows. Temperature readings taken show the temperature eight inches behind the face was also consistent, a sure sign of excellent aerobic stability.”