With estimated costs of €27-€37 to make silage bales in 2022, Teagasc has provided some tips for farmers to help them make better quality silage this season.
- Mow when dew has evaporated and wilt to a target of 30 to 35% DM;
- The aim is for dense, well-shaped bales with over 220kg DM per bale;
- Baler choppers increase DM per bale by 10-15%;
- Use a slow tractor speed to produce well-packed bales;
- Adjust the baler density setting to a high/maximum position;
- Use a recommended plastic wrap sourced from a reputable supplier;
- At least four layers of plastic are required for adequate preservation. Under good management conditions, the benefits of 6 layers are small;
- Avoid rough handling of unwrapped bales as this can cause them to lose shape. A bale lifter is preferable to a spike fortran sport;
- If you are storing bales for a prolonged period (9 months+), then 6 layers is advised;
- Ideally, transport bales to the final storage area before wrapping. Damage to wrap during transport is a significant source of DM loss;
- Bales you make from low DM or very leafy grass will lose shape when you stock them, increasing spoilage losses. Store on ground level instead;
- Check for damage and repair plastic on a regular basis;
- Aim to have bales consumed within two days at feed-out. Do not feed mouldy bales or parts of bales to livestock.
- Plan your grass silage strategy
- Define the highest quality silage type required on the farm first;
- Estimate the quantity of this silage quality needed;
- Calculate area of first (and subsequent) cuts required to produce this silage;
- Mark this area on the farm map and set the target cutting date(s);
- Manage the remaining area to produce silage of standard quality.