Better silage improves herd performance

Ryan McMullan runs 60 Holstein cows in Carnlough, Co Antrim. They are currently yielding 8000L on 46kg silage mixed 50:50 1st and 2nd cut plus 5kg in wagon and rest of meal topped in parlour to yield.  A few years ago he decided that he needed to improve silage quality in order to improve herd performance.

The first aim was to cut silage earlier; however with heavy land this can be difficult. The silage ground gets 4000 gallon per acre, this year it was put on with his umbilical slurry system, which has been invaluable. Next only 60 units of N is applied for the first cut in early April, this means silage can be cut from early May, second cut get 2 bags per acre of 27.4.4 plus sulphur and it was cut third week of June, third cut was delayed until September . Again mowing and ensiling is done by Ryan’s machines. It is mowed with a mower-spreader, gets a 24 hour wilt weather permitting, rowed up and then ensiled with a trailed harvester, aiming for a DM of 28% to 32%.

Ryan contacted Provita to source Advance+ and was also supplied an applicator. The combination of all of these management changes has resulted in much better silage quality.  When using Advance+ for the first time Ryan availed of the mini-silo tests, uniquely offered by Provita to assess how much difference Advance+ makes to the silage quality. The mini-silo was taken by Ryan from the same field a few metres apart and then sent to AFBI for testing. The AFBI predicted yield figures based on 6kg meal fed per day showed a 3L per cow per day benefit. This is at the higher end of the benefit, normally when triplicate samples are done the benefit averages 1L per cow per day. The combination of cutting earlier and using Advance+ has resulted in silage that is worth approximately an extra 8L per cow per day more.

“Cows have performed much better on the higher quality silage. They have better condition, better fertility and more milk. With a decent milk price I’ve therefore been able to push cows to their full genetic potential without any negative effects. Also the silage keeps much better when feeding out.”

For more information or to arrange a free on farm mini-silo test to compare treated, untreated or other brands, call Provita on 0800 328 4982 or