Getting more litres from forage

Provita's Tommy Armstrong
Provita's Tommy Armstrong

Data from the Agrisearch “Grassland performance and its relationship with profitability on 10 Northern Ireland dairy farms” shows milk from forage ranges from 2,260ltr to 4,550.

Two of the farms with this highest margin were managed very differently but also very efficiently, one yielding 6000 litres on 1 t of meal and the other yielding 8,700 litres on 2.3t of meal. Both achieved approximately 3,500 litres from forage. This should be a realistic aim for dairy farmers in Northern Ireland.

The genetic potential of the cow and the management system must also be aligned, e.g. two farms were compared that both fed two tonnes of meal but one had a yield of 5000 litres and the other had a yield of 8000 litres which could result in a difference of £50,000 per 100 cows per year. In addition to genetic production alignment the other main differences identified by Agrisearch were grazing management and silage quality.

One method of gaining efficiency is the use of an EU approved silage inoculant such as Provita Advance Plus.

On farm mini-silo test have shown a range of yield improvements from 0.75 to 2.5 litres per cow per day.

In order to drive efficiency dairy farmers should attend farm events to find out how these farms are managed and seek management advice from other farmers, advisers and commercial companies and then decide which management changes will be applied. These should then be reviewed regularly and refined as needed.