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Kay O'Sullivan November/December Update 2023

Silage sample results

Silage sample results

  • Silage samples tested
  • Silage quality is too high for the suckler cows
  • Mineral analysis results for the multi species silage
Finishing bullocks

Finishing bullocks

  • Latest weights on the finishing bullocks
  • They are booked for the factory on 11th January
  • They will be weighed to see how they performed over winter
Hedgerow management & project results

Hedgerow management & project results

  • Preliminary Irish Pollinator Monitoring Scheme results
  • Hedges have been side trimmed on the farm
  • Side trimming allows hedges to grow up & sequester more carbon than if topped

Animal Nutrition

Silage samples were taken and sent to the lab for analysis. The results are outlined below.

1st cut silage:

  • 76.8% DMD with 14.79% crude protein at 33.98% dry matter (2A, cut 28th May)

Second cut silage:

  • 69.16% DMD with 13.02% crude protein at 31.88% dry matter (cut 9th August)
  • 74.8% DMD with 18.93% crude protein at 33.14% dry matter (MSS, cut 28th August)
  • 75.1% DMD with 16.93% crude protein at 22.25% dry matter (red clover, cut 5th September)
  • 75.6% DMD with 16.83% crude protein at 31.57% dry matter (MSS, cut 28th August)

While Kay is delighted with how well the samples tested, she has a dilemma for feeding her suckler cows pre-calving. They are already in good body condition but the silage quality is too good for them. She has decided to delay weaning he calves until after Christmas to help maintain the cow’s body condition. She will feed the 69.16% DMD silage to the cows and they will have access to a paddock beside the shed so that they can exercise. The water trough is located at the opposite end of the paddock which forces them to walk to it for a drink. She also has the option to buy in organic straw for feeding with the silage if required.

Cows and calves at grass

Figure 1: Cows with calves at foot

Meanwhile the finishing cattle are out wintered on the redstart since 21st October and are being fed the multi species silage as a fibre source. They were given a bolus before grazing which has provided them with copper, cobalt, iodine and selenium and are strip grazing along the redstart.

Kay also sent her multi species silage for a mineral analysis and the results are outlined below. There are no recommended limits in terms of mineral content of multi species but when compared to grass mineral analysis it shows he following;

  • - Very high in calcium and molybdenum
  • - Normal for copper, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur
  • - Low for cobalt, selenium, sodium and zinc
  • - Very low in iron and manganese

Mineral analysis of multi species silage

Figure 2: Mineral sample results for multi species silage

Kay has selected a pre-calving mineral lick for feeding to her cows. On analysis of the label, assuming the intake is 100g/day, the cows will ingest the following;

Macro minerals

  • 15g magnesium (17-20g recommended)
  • 6g calcium (<2g recommended)
  • 0g phosphorus (4.5g recommended)
  • 6g sodium (15g recommended)

Micro minerals

  • 300mg copper (200-400mg recommended)
  • 5mg selenium (4-6mg recommended)
  • 50mg iodine (20-60mg recommended)
  • 8mg cobalt (5-10mg recommended)
  • 100mg manganese (335-415mg recommended)
  • 450mg zinc (335-600mg recommended)


  • 20,000 iu vitamin A (>60,000 iu recommended)
  • 4,000 iu vitamin D (>12,000 iu recommended)
  • 100 (>500 iu recommended)

The mineral lick is low in phosphorus and sodium, and high in calcium which can be risky pre-calving. Although it is low in manganese, it is providing adequate amounts of the other micro minerals. The vitamins being provided are very low.

Overall when examined in conjunction with the multi species silage it would be unsuitable to feed both to the cows as they are both too high in calcium. The 69.16% DMD grass silage would be more suitable for the cows nutritionally.

Another issue is that it’s difficult to predict how much of the mineral lick is being ingested y the cows – it could be higher or lower than 100g/day. A bolus could be administered but the macro minerals are not stored in the body and therefore have to be fed daily. Another option may be to switch to a pre-calving mineral that can be dusted along a cattle trough. Kay feeds silage in a round feeder so it would not be effective to dust minerals on this as not all cows would have access at once and the minerals could fall down into the feeder. All mineral feeds must be approved by Kay’s organic certifying body before she can feed them.

Further information on the role of each mineral and suckler cow recommendations can be found here.


The 7 finishing bullocks were weighed on 21st October when they moved onto the redstart. They averaged 528kg and gained 0.87kg/day since 19th July. They are booked into the factory for the 11th January and Kay will weigh them before then to see how they performed on the redstart and multi species silage.

Finishing bullocks

Figure 3: Finishing bullocks are being out wintered


Kay received preliminary results from the Irish Pollinator Monitoring Scheme. A trained surveyor visits her farm 5 times per year to record species identified on the farm in field-field and along field boundaries. Some species that were found include the Early bumblebee, Grey Mining Bee and Hairy-eyed Syrphus hoverfly. This hoverfly is great to have on the farm as their larvae hunt and eat aphids as well as pollinate flowers when they are adults. Kay will be provided with more details as further analysis of the results is carried out.

Kay side-trimmed some of the hedges along the lane on her farm to prevent any damage to machinery from over hanging branches. She rarely tops them to allow them to continue growing up and to thicken, which also allows them to sequester more carbon and provide shade, shelter and biodiverse habitats.

Trees are side trimmed

Figure 4: Hedges along the lane have been side trimmed only