Grazed grass most ef­fi­cient

Irish Examiner - Farming - - NEWS - Stephen Cado­gan

Grazed grass is by far the cheap­est dairy or beef feed, but when you turn it into silage, it is one of the dear­est, said nu­tri­tion­ist Brian Reidy in his pre­sen­ta­tion at the re­cent Farmex: The Busi­ness of Farm­ing event in Kilkenny. When com­pared in terms of the en­ergy that drives milk vol­ume, milk qual­ity, con­for­ma­tion and fat score, body con­di­tion and fer­til­ity graz­ing, maize, beet, whole­crop and bras­si­cas are all cheaper than grass silage, even on rented land. Mr Reidy said: “How we put a value on a feed has to change. Feed cost per unit of en­ergy is far more im­por­tant.”

He pre­sented a com­par­i­son of ac­tual utilised feed costs per tonne and 1000 UFL, which takes into ac­count feed spoilage, waste and re­jec­tion (UFL is an en­ergy rat­ing, 1 UFL is equiv­a­lent of 1kg of air dried bar­ley). De­pend­ing on the farm­yard setup and equip­ment avail­able, there will be as­so­ci­ated feed­ing costs for some of these feeds. How­ever, most peo­ple feed­ing silage re­quire no ex­tra equip­ment, etc, to feed maize silage or whole-crop. Even if land is not rented, the cost on a feed en­ergy ba­sis first cut silage is €164 per 1,000 UFL en­ergy rat­ing (1 UFL is equiv­a­lent of 1kg of air dried bar­ley). It’s €197 for sec­ond cut silage.

The equiv­a­lent costs for other feeds are €67 for grazed grass, €129 for silage from maize grown un­der plas­tic (€141 for open crops), €149 for whole­crop spring bar­ley, €130 for fod­der beet, €137 for sugar beet, €110 for kale, and €122 for rape.

On rented land, the costs are €116 for grazed grass, €178 for silage from maize grown un­der plas­tic (€204 for open crops), €248 for whole­crop spring bar­ley, €174 for fod­der beet, €183 for sugar beet, €152 for kale, and €191 for rape. They are all cheaper than the €239 per 1000 UFL en­ergy (utilised by live­stock), or €281 for sec­ond cut silage.

Pic: Pa­trick Browne

Brian Reidy at Farmex at Cillin Hill, Kilkenny.

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