Co Armagh milk producer has more and better quality silage

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Evan Allen and his father John farm in partnership near Richhill in Co Armagh.

They keep a high yielding pedigree herd of Holstein Friesian and supply milk to Leprino Foods Ltd (formerly Glanbia Cheese) in Magheralin.

The Allen herd averages a very respectable 11,500-12,000 litres pa at 4.38% butterfat and 3.38% protein.

Cows are fed a TMR diet using a Keenan mixer wagon. The nutritious diet includes a blend supplied by Thompsons Feeds, grass and maize silage plus straw.

Pictured discussing the improved silage quality and reduced storage losses using the Clingseal Visqueen silage film cover are Evan Allen, Leprino Foods milk supplier, Richhill, Co Armagh and Mark Morrison, manager, Fane Valley Stores, Armagh. Picture: Columba O'HarePictured discussing the improved silage quality and reduced storage losses using the Clingseal Visqueen silage film cover are Evan Allen, Leprino Foods milk supplier, Richhill, Co Armagh and Mark Morrison, manager, Fane Valley Stores, Armagh. Picture: Columba O'Hare
Pictured discussing the improved silage quality and reduced storage losses using the Clingseal Visqueen silage film cover are Evan Allen, Leprino Foods milk supplier, Richhill, Co Armagh and Mark Morrison, manager, Fane Valley Stores, Armagh. Picture: Columba O'Hare

The silage quality is top class as they make three cuts of grass silage each year from 150 acres of land and 50 acres of forage maize.

Evan says: “We have been using Visqueen silage sheets and Clingseal film cover on our silage clamps for many years and are delighted with the results.

“Clingseal is a flexible vacuum sheet that is used directly beneath traditional, heavier silage sheets such as Visqueen Agri-S. It is thinner and therefore more flexible, allowing it to cling more closely to the contours of the clamp surface and tuck-in more at the sides.

“This helps eliminate air pockets and provides a close fitting barrier to significantly reduce top and shoulder losses from aerobic spoilage.

Pictured discussing the improved silage quality and reduced storage losses using the Clingseal Visqueen silage film cover are Evan Allen, Leprino Foods milk supplier, Richhill, Co Armagh and Mark Morrison, manager, Fane Valley Stores, Armagh. Picture: Columba O'HarePictured discussing the improved silage quality and reduced storage losses using the Clingseal Visqueen silage film cover are Evan Allen, Leprino Foods milk supplier, Richhill, Co Armagh and Mark Morrison, manager, Fane Valley Stores, Armagh. Picture: Columba O'Hare
Pictured discussing the improved silage quality and reduced storage losses using the Clingseal Visqueen silage film cover are Evan Allen, Leprino Foods milk supplier, Richhill, Co Armagh and Mark Morrison, manager, Fane Valley Stores, Armagh. Picture: Columba O'Hare

“The silage sheet is weighed down with tyres and the Clingseal film cover adheres firmly to the silage sheet and they both give the silage great protection.”

According to Evan silage is expensive to make, he says: “So we minimise any waste during storage by using Clingseal film purchased from the Fane Valley Armagh stores on their silage pits.”

According to Mark Morrison, manager of the Fane Valley store in Armagh: “Over the last decade oxygen impermeable Clingseal film sheeting has been shown to be very effective on numerous farms in minimising forage waste.

“It sucks down onto the surface of the silage, giving a better seal. It should be used to line the walls and cover the top.”

Mark advises customers making silage to: “Check the sheeting periodically for holes caused by crows etc and seal with suitable tape. Air infiltration during silage storage as a result of poor compaction and sealing can increase DM losses by as much as 8%.”

According to silage expert Dr Dave Davies from the Silage Solutions consultancy in Wales “good fermentation and aerobic stability depend on preventing oxygen from entering the pit”.

However if the silage clamp is not sealed properly, losses can amount to 25-30%.

He advises farmers to “cover the entire wall, from top to bottom, and allow for at least two metres of excess sheet at the top so it overlaps with the Clingseal film barrier and top sheet”.

Dr Davies says: “Make sure there is at least half a metre of extra silage sheet at the front of the clamp and weigh it down well around the edge. Sealing the ramp properly will result in at least 5% more silage.”

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