Grim Forage Picture for Northerners

UK – Beef and sheep farmers across Scotland and Northern England should be analysing silage to flag up problems ahead of winter, according to leading UK livestock experts.
calendar icon 5 August 2015
clock icon 2 minute read

A “poor” summer across the region has brought rain, cold weather and even drought to some areas, warns Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), underlining the difference in silage produced in central and southern England.

SRUC livestock specialist Dr Basil Lowman said cool weather earlier in the summer had produced low yields of “quite stemmy material” by reducing grass growth but not delaying seed head emergence.

“The poorer the quality of the silage the less cattle eat,” said Dr Lowman. “This lower daily silage intake is further reduced by having to feed more barley if animal performance is to be maintained.

“In some cases concentrate requirements over a 180 day winter feeding period could be increased two or three fold compared with when good quality silage is available.”

Farmers have been advised to analyse silage early, assess what extra cereals might be needed and, if necessary, look to crimp home grown crops.

Challenging summer conditions could mean many cattle are being housed lighter and leaner come winter, meaning a “double whammy” on concentrate/cereal requirements when cereal prices are firming, added Dr Lowman.

He added: “Alternatively deals can be struck with arable neighbours to benefit both. For example combining headlands early as moist grain for stock feed can be a major benefit to growers resulting in a more uniform sample from the rest of the field and significantly reducing drying costs.”

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