Silage quality key to Quilly cost control

Dromore, Co Down milk producer Neal Pepper, with Martin Scott, right, of Thompsons and Noel McGrath, Volac Forage Specialist.  The Pepper family zero graze over 300 pedigree Holsteins and use Ecosyl additives to make 5,000 tonne of consistently good grass and maize silage
Dromore, Co Down milk producer Neal Pepper, with Martin Scott, right, of Thompsons and Noel McGrath, Volac Forage Specialist. The Pepper family zero graze over 300 pedigree Holsteins and use Ecosyl additives to make 5,000 tonne of consistently good grass and maize silage

Milking over three hundred zero grazed cows, thrice daily, the Pepper family of Dromore, Co Down are a by word for efficient use of forage, reports Rodney Magowan.

Zero grazing, the Pepper family have found, boosts by up to 25% the output from every acre farmed and is a system that suits a large Holstein herd.

As so often in Northern Ireland the area adjacent to their farmyard simply could not support a traditionally grazed herd of this size. Nor by any stretch of the imagination reach the same levels of cost effective output per cow or per acre.

Thus their huge emphasis on producing consistently high quality silage that “feeds out well”. Over 5,000 tonne of grass and maize silage is made each year using the Volac Ecosyl range of additives supplied by Thompsons, the animal feed compounders.

“We started growing maize silage in 1991 to make high energy silage for our higher yielding cows and over the years Ecosyl additives have proved invaluable,” commented Neal Pepper.

“We did try other additives on both maize and grass silage, but always came back to the proven product, Ecosyl. It is easy to apply, gives us invaluable consistency in our silages and stability on open clamp faces.

“By opting for zero grazing we aim to ensure that not a blade of grass goes to waste. All the more important since the Brexit vote lead to a dramatic drop in the pound, which will increase the cost of imported feedstuffs.”

Using Volac Ecosyl additives from Thompsons the typical figures for first cut silage are Dry Matter 39.4 to 43.7 and for protein 18.5 to 18.8. ME figures ranging from 11.4 to 12.1 and those for intake from 120.5 to 128.

Maize silage, also made with Ecosyl, had 37.1DM, a 75.2 D Value, 11.9ME with 31.5 starch plus an intake figure of 114.4 making this ‘rocket fuel’ for Holsteins.

Since moving from farming at Banbridge to Quilly outside Dromore in 1955 three generations of the Pepper family have taken the business forward by working with progressive suppliers of services and inputs. Aside from Ecosyl they also use Megalac from Volac to add energy to dairy diets, enhance yields, herd health and fertility.

As regards breeding policy Genus Reproductive Management Systems optimise progress with innovations such as genomics.

However as Neal affirms: “No matter how good the breeding policy successfully producing milk depends on having reliable silage quality. With Ecosyl there are no unwelcome surprises on opening a clamp. This additive plays a key role in keeping cows healthy, content and performing efficiently.

“The way our Quilly Herd performs on silage made with Ecosyl, even in far from favourable summers, bears out the experience of producers nationwide.”

To learn more about the world’s most proven silage additives browse www.volac.com/ecosyl or contact John Thompson & Sons Ltd. tel; (028) 9035 1321.