Grass management pays dividends

Brian McCarron, left, Genus ABS, discusses grass growth with Mark Annett on his farm at Ballykeel Road, Hillsborough
Brian McCarron, left, Genus ABS, discusses grass growth with Mark Annett on his farm at Ballykeel Road, Hillsborough

A detailed fertiliser and slurry application programme has ensured good grass growth on the Annett farm at Ballykeel Road, Hillsborough and, weather permitting, silage cutting will start on 21st May.

The father and son team of Hugh and Mark Annett aim to take as much production from grass and forage as possible and will therefore aim to cut the silage crop just before 50 per cent ear emergence in the sward.

Recent advice from DARD states that each week’s delay after this stage and date in mid-season varieties, requires the feeding of an extra 2kg of concentrate to achieve the same milking performance. The 180 cow Annett Holstein/Friesian herd has a current average yield of 8500 litres.

Mark Annett states: “In view of recent milk prices the more production we can get from forage the better so we will be keeping a close eye on the crop. We take three cuts of silage and after cutting the grass will be wilted for 24 hours.”

Four years ago they were introduced to Powerstart silage inoculant by their Genus ABS representative, Brian McCarron. They were so pleased with the results that they have used it every year since that.

The two main aspects that encouraged Mark to use Powerstart initially were the study involving 25,000 cows which showed that those farmers who treated their silage with Genus ABS Powerstart had, on average, a 10 day reduction in calving interval. This is worth at least £50 per cow per year and in a 150 cow herd means an extra £7500 per year. The second factor was that the benefits of this inoculant were effective no matter what the weather conditions.

However, after the first year Mark noted the excellent fermentation, the increased intakes and lack of waste. Over the intervening years he has also benefited from increased yields and milk quality in addition to the fertility aspect. Even in the difficult weather conditions early in 2014 he reaped the benefits of this inoculant.

Brian McCarron, Genus ABS explains: “Powerstart contains a special bacteria which makes better use of the sugars in grass and thus speeds up the fermentation process. The more rapid fermentation means more sugar in the silage which is available to the cow, and the protein in the grass is preserved more effectively. The final result is more energy available to the cow for milk production. If less energy is available from the diet, then cows in early lactation may be in extended negative energy balance and will lose more condition over a longer period of time, which has a strong effect on fertility.”

This year Genus ABS is rewarding customers with a free entry into a draw for a Suzuki Ozark 250 Quad Bike for every 100 tonne of inoculant purchased. This bike has been sponsored by JMK Quads, Loughbrickland.

For more information contact your local Genus ABS representative or Stephen Lavery on 077 6805 8450 or Brian McCarron on 077 6805 8453.