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HomeFarming News‘Not one bad silage bale’ out of 800 on 120-cow dairy farm
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‘Not one bad silage bale’ out of 800 on 120-cow dairy farm

James Spillane farms in partnership with his daughter, Rachel, near Conna village in east Cork, where they milk 120 Friesian cows.

The Tirlán milk suppliers currently run an autumn and-spring calving, but they are transitioning to a 100% spring-calving system.

Unlike most other milk producers, the Spillane family do not conserve any pit silage but make all baled silage, because of “its better quality”.

Their local silage contractors are father and son duo, Eddie and Gavin Hartnett, who bale and wrap circa 800 bales for them every year using the Film & Film system and a McHale Fusion integrated baler wrapper.

Film & Film wrapping

Film & Film wrapping is an innovative dual wrapping method which combines the use of SilotitePro1800 balewrap and Baletite net wrap replacement film.

This results in better-shaped, denser and more compact bales, which can better withstand handling.

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“We have been using this system exclusively for the last two years and are very happy with silage quality. Indeed we have not had one bad bale,” explained James.

“There is no need to worry about mouldy silage, and the bales keep well during storage.”

The Spillane family purchase their Baletite and SilotitePro1800 from McDonnell Bros, their local agricultural merchants.

Bales are stacked three high on concrete and two high on gravel, and James uses a bale shear to feed out silage.

“Using Baletite film instead of net wrap helps to keep the silage from becoming enmeshed during feed out,” the farmer said.

“Feeding out the silage is quicker, and recycling is much easier as there is no need to keep the Baletite separate as with net wrap.”

Hartnett Agri Contracting

Eddie and Gavin Hartnett, Ballynoe, Conna in East Cork, are a primary example of a modern baled silage contractor, offering their clientele a choice between net wrap and using the new Film & Film system.

Their modern machinery includes four John Deere tractors, two 10-foot John Deere mowers (front & back), two Krone rakes and two Lely tedders.

Eddie and Gavin Hartnett also spread lime for local dairy and beef farmers using two ten-tonne Bredal K65 machines.

In addition, they also provide a hedge-cutting service for local farmers and other customers using a TWOSE 520 hedge trimmer.

The Hartnett family’s primary service is silaging, making baled silage since 2006 have the best of HP and equipment.

“Almost 70% of my customers are now using the Film & Film system and will never go back to net wrap. They were delighted with silage quality over recent years,” Eddie remarked.

The Hartnetts are using the Baletite mantle film successfully to replace net wrap on the recommendation from McDonnell Bros in Fermoy, who also supply the SilotitePro1800 bale wrap.

According to Eddie, “there is a very good tack on this film”, while Gavin is of the view that “using the Film and Film system – the combination of the Baletite and SilotitePro1800 was definitely the right decision”.

“This is the way forward for anyone doing a big volume of bales and has time constraints. Farmers using the Film & Film system are quite happy that it is good value indeed.”

The Hartnetts both agree that by using Baletite:

  • Is more user-friendly than net wrap;
  • Bales hold their shape better;
  • Bales are denser;
  • Bales are easier to move and are far less likely to rip during handling.

Silage quality is “definitely better,” says Gavin, especially for higher dry matter (DM) grass.

“Silage is sweeter, and there is no mould, so our customers appreciate this and have no problem switching to the Film & Film system.”

“Farmers with bales left over know there is no problem keeping them for much longer in storage.”

Independent trial results

Trial results have been obtained in Britain for the Film & Film system by Dr. Dave Davies of Silage Solutions Ltd, who acts as an independent consultant to the Silage Advisory Centres.

Dr. Davies is a well-known forage expert and is a former Senior Research Scientist at the Institute of Grassland & Environmental Research (IGER) at Aberystwyth in Wales.

Indeed, an independent trial he conducted on a commercial farm in England demonstrated that the Film & Film wrapped bales had:

  • 5% fewer DM losses compared to net wrap bales due -to enhanced fermentation;
  • 80% fewer DM losses compared to net wrap bales due to mould formation on the bale;
  • An overall 52% reduction in  DM losses compared to net wrap bales.

The reduced losses that resulted from the use of the Film & Film wrapping system means that the farmer had more forage to feed to his herd.

For example, a dairy farmer could gain an average of 5.7kg DM per Film & Film bale, so the 67.26 MJ ME, on average, gained for each of the bales could give an additional 11.6 litres of milk production.

Or for a cattle farmer, each bale could give an additional 1.5 kgs of beef production.

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