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Difficult Silage Making Conditions

Wait for drier weather conditions before attempting to make silage! That’s the practical advice for livestock farmers from Teagasc nutrition specialist Siobhan Kavanagh. The silage harvest in most areas of the country has been disrupted by the heavy rainfall over recent days.

According to Teagasc, it’s better to wait for drier conditions before cutting, even if the crop continues to lose quality by 2-4 units of DMD per week. The losses may be even higher in lodged crops. Dry well preserved silage with lower DMD is of greater value than wet silage with high DMD but poorly preserved.

Siobhan Kavanagh recommends that grass should be tested for sugar content as this will dictate whether an additive is needed or not. Recent analysis by Teagasc suggests that sugars are running at 1 to 2.5%. If sugars are below 3%, an acid based, or sugar based additive will help to preserve the crop in current conditions.

Crops of grass already mown will deteriorate progressively; allow a maximum 2 days before picking up unless very good forecast is expected. Apply an acid (2.5-3.5 litres /tonne), molasses (10-20 litres/tonne) or beet pulp or citrus pulp (50-100 kg/t).

Avoid soil contamination of the grass at all costs. Soil on the grass going into the pit will lead to poor preservation.

With wet grass, large volumes of effluent may be released quickly. An effective drainage system will help remove effluent quickly from the silo and prevent a large build-up of effluent which can cause the silage to split and shift within the silo.