Half of the first cut silage crops still to be harvested

editorial image

Up to 50% of this year’s first cut silage crops have still to be cut across many parts of Northern Ireland, according to Provita’s Tommy Armstrong.

“The very changeable weather of recent weeks is the obvious culprit,” he said.

“The good news is that a return to warmer and drier conditions is expected during the first few days of next week.

“Most silage swards are now beyond the heading stage. As a result, forage quality is on the decline. To compensate for this farmers and contractors should opt for a 24 hour wilt after cutting. This will serve to bring dry matters up to between 25% and 30%.”

With ground conditions likely to be quite soft next week, Armstrong is advising against the use of tedders.

“This will predispose crops to potentially higher levels of soil contamination,” he said.

“Cutting with a mower conditioner and then rowing up prior to pick up will be more than sufficient, given the weather that is currently forecast for next week.”

Armstrong pointed out that soil contamination of silage can significantly increase the risk of cattle and sheep succumbing to listeriosis infections.

“The soil contains the bacteria that are responsible for this potentially fatal condition. These bugs can multiply in the silage until feed out,” he said.

“One way of preventing this from happening is to use an effective silage inoculant, such as Provita’s ’Advance +’ product.

“The inoculant will also act to reduce secondary fermentation taking place within high dry matter silages, which will act to reduce losses at feed out,” he said.