Experts are urging beef and sheep producers to get silage analysed now
EXPERTS from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) are encouraging beef and sheep producers in Scotland and the North of England to get their silage analysed as soon as possible to give them maximum warning of potential problems they could face this winter.
While early published analysis showed a slight improvement on last year’s feed value, the figures often relate to fields cut during the sunny days of late April or May.
For many parts of the country it has been a poor summer because of cold, rain and sometimes even drought.
According to well-known SRUC livestock specialist, Dr Basil Lowman, one of the many things to have suffered is the quality of silage made for feeding next winter.
He said: ‘ For the vast majority of beef and sheep producers making silage in the conditions of June and July has been completely different. The cool conditions reduce the grass growth, but not the date when seed heads emerge, resulting in low yields of quite stemmy material. For many, conditions then worsened still further, with increased and even excessive rainfall.’
Dr Lowman points to evidence showing the huge impact silage quality can have on the amount of winter feed needed, if animal performance is to be maintained.
The SRUC believes that beef and sheep producers who get their silage analysed now give themselves time to plan and prepare for any problems they might face this winter.
However, whatever farmers are doing around their silage pits this season, SRUC urges caution. With lots of wet silage made pits are bulging and slippery and it is important to take a safety first approach.