Grazed grass most efficient
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.
Brian Reidy at Farmex at Cillin Hill, Kilkenny.