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Teagasc Silage Survey Results

Silage quality across the country is below normal this year due to the difficult weather experienced during the summer. Teagasc advisers have carried out analysis on 205 silage samples from commercial farms around the country to give an indication of the quality of fodder available on farms this winter.

The results show that the average Dry Matter Digestibility (DMD) was 64.1%, about 5-6 units down on normal years. Around a quarter of the samples taken showed the DMD to be less that 60% and 8% of samples were below 55% DMD.

Teagasc nutritionist Siobhan Kavanagh said that farmers will need to increase meal feeding by 1 to 2.5 kilos per head over the levels fed in other years to maintain animal performance.

The Teagasc fodder survey showed that on average, silage was made 19 days later than usual, but this ranged up to 2 months late in some cases. The later the silage was harvested the lower the quality, with both DMD and crude protein levels falling.

While other quality indicators such as pH, which average 4.2% and ammonia levels which average 8.3% were fine, the range and variation in the samples indicated that there are preservation problems on individual farms.

Siobhan Kavanagh advised that all farmers should get their silage analysed this year and formulate a feeding program based on the results. This will help avoid disappointing performance over the winter.

The survey also indicated that 37% of the farmers surveyed were short of fodder for the coming winter. Teagasc advisers are available to assist farmers in preparing a winter feed budget and to outline the options available to address the shortages.