Retest silage to get milk protein levels right for winter

UK - Dairy farmers are being advised to have silages reanalysed, following increasing numbers of herds reporting disappointing milk protein contents due to poor quality forages being fed.
calendar icon 13 November 2006
clock icon 1 minute read
Tony Evans of Andersons Consultants says many cows are failing to yield anywhere near anticipated levels of milk, while milk urea levels are far short of where they should be. "One client had grass silage analysed recently which contained just 8% protein," he explains.

"Retesting silage is the best option, as it will give an accurate picture of what silage quality is like now and allow rations to be formulated to correct any problems. Where ration protein levels need quick and significant correction, rape is the best choice, as it is a cheaper option than soya, where large quantities are needed."

Starch content

Meanwhile, East Anglia-based Kite consultant Ben Watts says many maize silages are high in starch content, which is also causing problems for some herds. "These need buffering with bicarb or something similar to correct problems. Where maize was tested early it is best to retest now, as many early analyses are likely to be misleading compared to an analysis done now."

In some cases it may be beneficial to add some extra chopped straw or other long fibre to diets in order to slow down ration progress through the rumen and allow more time for available protein to be absorbed, adds Mr Watts.

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