The benefits of silage additives

Gareth Bell, centre, Genus ABS with Marie Kate McClory and Colin Irvine inspecting the Maize crop at Bronte Holsteins soon to be treated with Acti-Maize. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Gareth Bell, centre, Genus ABS with Marie Kate McClory and Colin Irvine inspecting the Maize crop at Bronte Holsteins soon to be treated with Acti-Maize. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

The benefits of applying an additive to silage, whether grass, wholecrop or maize have been shown to include a 4% per cent increase in intakes, a 5 % per cent increase in milk production and a 4% increase in milk value due to the increased weight of fat and protein.

While these benefits are vitally important, Paul Nunn, Product Business Development Manager, Genus ABS emphasises that this year, due to weather conditions and concentrate feed prices, another benefit will be equally important – dry matter losses.

He explained: “Trials done with Live System, the forerunner of Acti-Maize, versus untreated silage, showed much lower Dry Matter losses in the treated silage. That means more of the silage clamped actually made it to the cow! Further trials done with Acti-Maize Xtra versus an untreated control showed a huge reduction in Dry Matter losses.”

Paul continues: “The Acti-Maize product is simple. By applying 1 million of extremely fast-acting lactic acid producing bacteria to every gramme of maize the fermentation starts fast and finishes sooner than either untreated or competitor treated maize. Our focus is all about helping farmers get as much of their forage from the field to the cow in a state that she can then utilise to its optimum. And we do all this for a very competitive price! According to our trials, the Dry Matter loss savings alone will be greater than the cost of treating the maize silage with products from our Live System Acti-Maize range! All the other benefits – more milk with better constituents etc are free bonuses for the farmer!”

During the 40 years since the last major drought, dairy farming has changed massively. The 10,000 litre yielding cow has become commonplace, with average yields now around 8,000 litres. The crops we grow have changed too. For many dairy farmers the maize crop has become the staple food source on their farms. Not only has the summer slowed maize growth with yields likely to be lower than hoped for, but farmers also face competition for the crop from bio-digester operators. All this has meant that standing maize fetching the equivalent of more than £50 per tonne is not uncommon, so preserving every tonne is vital.

Paul emphasised: “To state the obvious, cattle feed will be at a premium this winter. Most parts of the country have endured the driest summer in more than forty years, and that summer followed a long, cold spring. Because of the late turnout, many feedstocks were already running low... and then the drought happened. Many farmers have had no choice but to break into their winter 2018/19 feed reserves already. The result is that it is more important than ever that every tonne ensiled is available for feed during next winter.”

Martin and Henry McClory run the 150 cow Bronte Holstein herd near Banbridge and have been using Acti -Maize Instant. The result has been lower PH, less waste and better intakes in the cows. In their book it is a very cost effective product.