Most first cut dairy silages appear to be of excellent quality if the average analysis into SAC labs is anything to go by.

According to Mary Young, SAC Consulting livestock nutritionist, dry matter levels are lower than last year which saw some particularly hot, dry spells. (See table).

She said the most important measures to note are dry matter (DM), metabolisable energy (ME) and crude protein (CP). DM is the most variable component year on year and is an extremely important factor in feed budgeting, when calculating how much feed you have in the clamp or bale stack.

Silage intake potential (SIP) is another good indication of high quality silage, with 90 considered average and above this very good. DM, protein and digestibility (D value) are positively related to intake.

To date, silages analysed through SAC have shown an improvement in ME and CP, with historical silage data from 1998 -2018 revealing a noticeable decrease in protein over this period (averaging around -0.6 g per year).

This year however has seen an improvement with an average CP of 148g/kg DM (or 14.8% DM), which is still considered low for a high yielding dairy cow that should be targeting at least 160g/kg DM (16% DM) CP, she said.

Average silage analysis in 2018 and 2019

Nutrient Mar-May 2018 May-July 2019

average average

DM g/kg 332 280

D Value (%) 67 73

ME MJ/kg DM 10.8 11.7

CP g/kg DM 139 148

SIP (g/kg DM W) – 106

pH 4.4 4.1