Fod­der fears as mould hits over­heat­ing silage pits

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS -

MOULD prob­lems are be­ing re­ported as over­heat­ing oc­curs in some pits of silage that were har­vested at very high dry mat­ter lev­els dur­ing the sum­mer.

An­i­mal nu­tri­tion­ist Gerry Gig­gins said a lot of silage this year was har­vested at dry mat­ter rates of 35-50pc. “These crops bor­dered on hay,” he said.

Nor­mally silage crops come in at around 25pc dry mat­ter. Mr Gig­gins pointed out that man­ag­ing the pit face where high dry mat­ter silage is be­ing fed can be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult and prob­lem­atic.

“High dry mat­ter silage has a higher pH and higher sugar con­tent. The shear grab for feed­ing is less ef­fec­tive, and heat­ing at the pit face is com­mon,” he said.

“Where heat is present, moulds are form­ing, both vis­i­ble and in­vis­i­ble to the naked eye.

“These moulds can re­sult in a my­co­toxin chal­lenge to an­i­mals, re­sult­ing in lower per­for­mance, re­duced fer­til­ity, and in­creased like­li­hood of lame­ness.”

He urged farm­ers to use my­co­toxin binders to over­come this prob­lem. He said a greater fo­cus on pit-face man­age­ment will also be re­quired when feed­ing high dry mat­ter silage.

Mr Gig­gins also pointed out that the feed value per kg of the high dry mat­ter silage har­vested this sum­mer could be dou­ble that of re­cently-cut silage crops.

He said the daily in­take lev­els re­quired by an­i­mals will vary sig­nif­i­cantly as a con­se­quence, and this will be a crit­i­cal fac­tor par­tic­u­larly for farm­ers who are short of win­ter feed and are cur­rently com­pil­ing fod­der bud­gets for the hous­ing pe­riod.

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