Making silage and hay to prepare for uncertain feed outlook

MakingSilageWith forecasts of an El Nino later in 2014 now is the time for stockowners to be planning for dry conditions and an uncertain feed outlook.

Making silage and hay and using it efficiently is one way farmers can prepare. It can also help cover the seasonal winter feed shortage.


Neil Griffiths, Technical Specialist with the Department of Primary Industries said it is important to understand feed quality, what cattle need and what supplements may be needed.

"Understanding what pastures and crops can be conserved, at what stage and what additives help the process to make the best silage or hay possible, are important too," Mr Griffiths said.

"You want to make or buy good silage that stock want to eat and not feed that cattle walk past."

Mr Griffiths said there is a lot of science in the art of good silage making.

"For instance, poor silage may simply be the result of using lower quality input materials like over-mature pasture, or fodder crops with low sugars.

"Alternatively, it may be due to problems in the timing, wilting and baling process.

"Other problems may be the result of poor fermentation or air getting into the silage."

Mr Griffiths said the type of silage should complement rather than compete with what is in going to be in your pasture.

"A drought-affected pasture with little bulk requires different supplementation than pastures of ryegrass and clover."

How much silage and hay are worth to you depends on quality, especially energy factors. There are ways to calculate this to help farmers decide what is a fair price and if they should make, sell or buy what they need.

The keys to making good silage and hay is covered in a Top Fodder course being run over 3 days at Tocal College in June 24 - 26.

This is a very hands on course looking at a range of silage and hay. It includes the Top Fodder silage manual, written by a range of experts in silage and animal production, so participants have a great resource to refer back to.

An opportunity exists for discounted silage testing as part of the The Grasslands Society of NSW 2014 NSW Hay and Silage Feed Quality Awards. The Topfodder course will explain how to take samples and what the results mean. Entry forms for the Feed Quality Awards can be found on the NSW Grassland Society website.

For more information about the Top Fodder course contact 1800 025 520.