Wynnstay’s Forage workshops commenced on Wednesday 19th April at Court Farm in Gloucester and were followed by two further dates at Langdon Mill, Pembrokeshire and Ffordd Las Ruthin. Although this is a particularly busy time of year all days were well received with a good turnout.
The main focus of the workshops was to give farmers an opportunity to discuss and interact with speakers to help get the most out of their forages by making good quality silages. The silages made over the coming weeks are going to influence the performance of the cows later in the year. Getting it right first time will reduce costs later down the line.
Pit management was a key issue discussed by Dr David Davies, Silage Solutions and Peter Smith, Volac. Trying to get the grass cut, into the pit, compressed well and sheeted up correctly are the areas where farmers can have the biggest control. Peter Smith emphasised the importance of setting up equipment correctly and how this could help reduce the number of contaminants brought into the clamp.
Dave Davies pointed out there can be up to a 10% variance in DM across the face, which could result in a difference of up to 8 litres of milk depending on which part of the clamp is being fed. Filling, compression and density of the clamp were the main causes of these variations. Edges of the clamp which are harder to compress showed the greatest difference. Highlighting the need for representative sampling of the face so diets could be balanced more accurately.
Georgina Thomas and Dr Liz Homer from Trouw talked through their new Nutriopt programme for rationing dairy cows. Nutiopt gave nutritionists access to more specific information of how feed functions within the rumen. Allowing more precise and accurate balancing of rations and improving feed efficiency.
Dr Andreas Foskolos, a Research Fellow in Ruminant Livestock Remodelling at Aberystwyth University presented research that had been done on fibre digestion and its function within the rumen. Giving greater insight into the breakdown of fibre and how this information could be used to increase intakes and better balance rations.
Wynnstay representatives Mark Price and Iwan Vaughan talked through how to utilize buffer feeding effectively for cows at grass. Grazing cows’ intakes could be maximised by buffer feeding correctly before PM milking to ensure they would get the most from early evening grazing.
Nitrogen utilisation by dairy cows was also discussed by Dr Huw McConochie. Grazing seasons can see cows using protein very inefficiently with milk urea being a good indication of this. Reducing crude protein and ensuring cows had adequate energy and fibre would help utilise protein from grass more effectively. Making the most of muck from the cows was a good way to capitalise on nitrogen losses.
As farmers start getting stuck into the silage season Wynnstay are able to offer advice and support to make sure our customers can get the most out of their forages. If you would like any further information on this please contact one of our Dairy Specialists, who will be happy to discuss your needs.