Arable Silage Mixes Arable Silage Mixes

Arable Silage Mixes

Whole crop cereals for forage are popular with many farmers because they can choose later in the season whether to cut as forage or harvest for grain. It can produce a higher DM yield at lower cost than maize or grass silage. It has a higher starch content and can sometimes increase milk yield per cow.

Dry matter content and nutrient concentration can also be manipulated by changing cutting height and hence the proportion of stems in the forage, and whole crop can be grown across a wider range of weather and soil conditions than maize, and generate little or no silage effluent.

When it comes to harvesting the crop, it should not take place until after the cereal grain has progressed beyond the milky-ripe growth stage. Crops should be harvested at a soft, cheddar consistency. Precision-chop harvesting is also preferred, as mowing and picking up will result in the loss of grains. A chop length of around 50mm is the ideal length to promote good rumen function in cattle, and improves consolidation in the clamp. The ideal range for whole crop is 35-45% DM. 40% is best. Ideally a layer of grass silage should be placed on top of the wholecrop to aid consolidation.

Cereal crops can carry high levels of yeasts and moulds, and these have the potential to grow rapidly in the clamp if conditions aren’t right. This can result in significant losses in energy and yield. Applying a proven additive which controls yeasts and moulds is a good way of limiting these losses both in the clamp and after opening, when the silage is exposed to air.

Spring sown whole crop is becoming more popular in the UK for a variety of reasons. It can follow out wintered grazing, stubble turnips, winter forage brassicas and may also be used as cover for reseeding. To increase the protein content of whole crop it is normally sown with peas or vetches to increase the protein content. This then produces a high quality well balanced feed.

Sowing rates are usually 75-85kg per acre or 35-50kg per acre if under sown with grass ley. Due to the inclusion of peas into the mix sowing should be delayed from standard cereal drilling time as the peas prefer dryer warmer seed beds normally from mid March onwards. Harvesting is normally 12-14 weeks from sowing, with yields averaging 12-13 tones fresh weight per acre.

Pearce Seeds offer the following arable silage mixtures but can also blend bespoke mixes for you. Common arable silage mixes include barley, triticale and oats for starch and combining, maple or forage peas, lupins and vetches for protein. Maple peas average 16% Protein and 72’D’ value @30-35% DM. The high tannin content in seed protects it from pests and disease. With a higher protein % than conventional peas crude protein content is highest in the high tannin pea silage.

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