THIS year, farmers have experienced both droughts and floods in the same summer. Analysis from NWF’s own laboratory data shows that this year’s grass silage averages are typically dryer which will be positive when it comes to utilising that quality, however may add some challenges with ration sorting/selection.

Early averages are looking positive and surprisingly consistent between cuts, apart from the usual fibre and energy variations.

The importance of dry matter (DM) is often understated; it dictates clamp stability, palatability, and intake characteristics. Whilst we love to see a high D-value and ME, cows must be able to keep the silage in the rumen long enough for it to be digested.

Rumen health characteristics are generally positive through the cuts. Sugar levels (1.8-3 percent) are not overly high and with relatively average lactic acid and RFC (rapidly fermentable carbohydrates), average acid loads of 47.6, 46 and 44.8, suggest that diets can be pushed if needed. Higher DM silages often lead to higher pH, which in many cases is acceptable; however, keep a close eye on clamp stability and heating at the face or through feed-out.

The TMR can be treated to tackle heating but don’t delay, heat is using valuable energy and creates spoilage. To promote intakes, overall TMR DM should be 45- 50 percent, higher levels will only reduce intakes. Incorporating alterative feeds such as molasses, could be an appropriate step.

The 6-Carbon sugars present in molasses-based liquid feeds are highly rumen fermentable and more effective at improving fibre digestion, therefore, increasing rumen throughput and stimulating dry matter intakes.

Using a molasses based liquid feed will drive DMI, support milk production, increase fibre digestibility, as well as reduce sorting and waste.