2. Maize silage utilisation
The cow will be able utilise maize silage much more efficiently if it’s left in the clamp for a few months after harvesting - ideally until the new year. So, what can be done to facilitate this? Firstly, clamp space availability needs to be considered - something which is commonly a problem. If there’s no old season maize silage left, consider wholecrop as a supplementary forage for the late autumn/early winter to ‘buy’ time. Alternatively, fodder beet can supply the additional fermentable energy to allow the new season maize to ferment. Rations can also be supplemented with maize grain if required to maintain starch levels.
3. Prioritising straw to specific groups
Over the last winter, straw has been both expensive and scarce. Straw is important in supporting structural fibre in many rations, especially where butterfat is important. It will also help milk from forage by supporting good rumen health. Straw is also crucial in many dry cow rations. It offers low energy, bulk rumen fill with a low Dietary Cation Anion Balance (DCAB) value to help manage milk fever. Wherever possible, good straw should be prioritised for dry cows. If additional fibre is needed for lactating rations, consider making specific high fibre silage, by cutting a few days later than normal. If straw is not available for dry cows, make specific dry silage or haylage. Inherently, this silage should have reduced fertiliser and slurry applications (especially potash) to reduce the DCAB value and should be cut at an advanced stage to achieve the high fibre, low density crop.
4. Forage consistency