Making first class silage is an absolute priority for Co Down contractor and suckler beef producer Adrian Douglas.
The Kilmore man runs both businesses with his sons Mark and Stuart.
“We have 60 suckler cows with calving taking place in the Spring and the Autumn and all calves brought through to finishing weights,” Adrian explained.
“The male calves are finished as bullocks at around 22 - 24 months with the heifers leaving the farm at between 18 and 20 months.
“The plan is to maximise daily growth rates from birth through to slaughter and to get as much performance from forage as possible.”
The Douglas’s normally make two cuts of silage. Last year’s first cut was taken on the 21st May with the second cut following in early August. The first cut tested exceptionally well with a D Value of 77, 14% CP, 41% DM and 12.3% ME.
Last year also saw the Douglas family use Sil-All 4x4+ inoculant on the silage for the first time through their three-year-old New Holland self-propelled forage harvester.
“The harvester weighs every tonne of grass that it picks up so applying the inoculant via the liquid applicator at the required rate per tonne of fresh grass was a very straightforward matter,” said Adrian.
“Prior to using Sil-All 4x4+ we had not used a silage additive for the previous decade.
“To say that we are impressed with the impact of Sil-All 4x4+ is an understatement. Our first cut is probably the best silage we have ever made and silage intakes are well up with absolutely no waste at the pit face. Our cattle have never finished so easily and being able to get them away quicker has helped to reduce our costs.”
The Sil-All range is distributed in Northern Ireland by United Feeds and the company’s local representative, Andrew McMordie was a recent visitor to the Douglas farm.
“Demand for the inoculant continues to grow within all the livestock sectors as farmers want to improve their silage quality. Forage forms the main part of a ruminant’s winter diet so by improving the quality of the silage it is an efficient way to drive performance across the whole herd. The cost of applying Sil-All 4x4+ is minimal when taken on a cost per head per day basis with any very slight increase in performance enough to cover the cost of the application.
“Furthermore with silage shortages a major concern across Northern Ireland this Winter and silage reserves going to be severely depleted it will be essential for farmers to try to get the most out of the grass they grow this incoming season. By applying Sil-All 4x4+ they can minimise Dry Matter losses from the moment the additive is applied as it starts to work instantly. This means the silage they ensile will last longer, for example silage with a dry matter of 40% will last twice as long as silage with a dry matter of 20% with no significant additional cost so minimising dry matter losses is crucial.
“Sil-All 4x4+ contains one million bacteria with four different strains of bacteria and four enzymes which help deliver a rapid drop in pH, (rapid fermentation) once the forage is ensiled. The enzymes help release sugars and aid digestibility of the forage.
“The ‘finishing bacteria’ acidipropionici also work to preserve the silage and to ensure that pit losses are minimised, once the silo is opened. All of this ensures that dry matter, energy and protein losses throughout the ensiling and feeding processes are minimal.
“The end result is the production of high-quality silage with an excellent feeding value.”
According to Andrew, Sil-All 4x4+ is available in both granular and a “flexible volume application” liquid form with the FVA liquid version being the most popular choice with the Northern Ireland farmer.
Andrew also confirmed that United Feeds are currently offering an early-season purchase offer on Sil-All 4x4+ now and full details of this can be given by your local representative or by contacting United Feeds directly on (028) 9075 9000.