Last year Dervock dairy farmer Jonathan McAlister, for the first time, applied Ecosyl additive to first cut silage, reports Rodney Magowan.
“We make our own silage without contractors so being a low volume additive made Ecosyl from Volac attractive,” recalled Jonathan, who farms with his father Ian.
“However, the even greater advantage of using this popular additive turned out to be the higher volume of milk produced from that silage. The best silage I think we have ever made.”
Asked why they make their own silage when North Antrim has no shortage of well equipped contractors Jonathan had a one word answer – flexibility.
“I don’t think there is much difference in cost between having our own equipment and using contractors, but we still like the flexibility as regards when we start ensiling.”
Since leaving Greenmount College back in 2005 Jonathan has seen the family herd grow to 120 Holsteins supplying milk to LacPatrick. A Holstein Friesian bull runs with the cows from December to May, but later, during summer grazing, either an Aberdeen Angus or a Hereford bull is used with calving from October to May.
Cows are grazed all day over summer, weather permitting, with twice a day milking year round.
Aside from two cuts of clamp silage some big bale silage is also made.
The milking cow feed ration is based on maintenance plus 15 litres with 37kg of first cut silage fed along with 5kg of Thompsons 16% dairy blend. Cows producing over 15l get 0.45kg per additional litre fed in the parlour.
Members of Causeway Business Development Group, the first BDG in the province, Jonathan and his father farm 70ha/172 acres of which 142 are owned.
“When our neighbour, David Anderson joined Thompsons a year ago, he encouraged us to use Ecosyl as this Volac additive, having been developed and made in Wales, is ideal for local conditions.
“Thankfully we took David’s advice as moving to Ecosyl has saved us money and made us money. Convenient to use in the field Ecosyl gives consistently palatable silage in the clamp, increases dry matter retention and keeps the silo face stable with no reheating.”
As regards benchmarking figures for the 120 strong herd over this past year the feeding rate was 0.39 with an average yield of 7100 litres, butter fat 3.98%, protein 3.10, SCC 98 and TBC 12.
Commenting Noel McGrath, Volac forage specialist, affirmed that using Ecosyl additive makes a real difference to the overall efficiency and profitability of a farm: “This is the most proven range of silage additives in the world having shone in 33 independent dairy and beef trials.
“Trials showing that, on average, Ecosyl treatment gives 1.2 litres extra milk per cow per day or a 15.2% improvement in beef DLWG. Ecosyl 100 contains MTD/1, a special strain of bacteria only found in the Ecosyl range of silage additives; hence the enhanced fermentation and boosted animal performance.
“Making silage is a major investment of time, effort and money so it is vital you retain as much of the nutritional value of grass as possible. Easy to use, low volume Ecosyl cuts waste, enhances feeding value and keeps open clamps stable.
“For progressive producers the question is not why use Ecosyl? The question is can you afford the risk of not using the nation’s favourite additive, Ecosyl?”
For details of Volac silage additives browse www.uk.ecosyl.com or contact Thompsons tel; (028) 9035 1321,Ecosyl NI distributors.