December 2016 Newsletter

Please find below some thoughts as to what we actually believe is happening with this year`s grass silages. The approach suggested may seem quite radical, but we believe will also prove to be economically viable.

Many of this years silages are particularly high in cuticular wax. It is a plant self defence mechanism to avoid been washed out or dehydrated. It is also one of the prime reasons, apart from management why we sometimes get slippage. 2012 was one of these years, when there were a lot of slippages, and silage under performed for the same reason.

There is a "hardness" about the fibre we don`t normally see, so the normal method of evaluating fibre content and digestibility via NDF and ADF doesn’t hold true. NIR analysis uses calibrations from the past, hence many variable factors are not considered when predicting silage values. Therefore we have an oily/waxy silage, high in cardboard/woody fibre, which cows are clearly having a hard time in extracting the theoretical energy/protein from.

Increasing protein alone is not the answer, as it may encourage excess loss of body fat, reduce fertility and may actually drop milk and constituents. It is almost impossible to manipulate the diet to provide extra energy, as fat or starch, as it won`t be utilised correctly, as the silage will probably have a high intake factor, but with low digestibility. The rumen is therefore packed with indigestible, rumen microflora `limiting lumps`, many of which we`ll find on the floor behind the cow!

What can we do?

In truth what needs to be done is to replace a significant part of the silage, which is costing X litres per cow per day, for something that has a much higher nutritional profile. Our New product, Silaboost pellets, which are cooked, is slower fermenting with much elevated digestibility due to this process, as well as more bypass protein, as compared to conventional Blends and Compounds. It is there to replace something that is effectively 10% Crude protein with low energy for the reasons explained above! We know your silage analysis will suggest otherwise, but the `black and white mobile laboratory' will tell you what is happening!

For every kg of silage Dry Matter that is replaced there is a 1.5 litre potential gain in milk output. Thus, if silage is say 25% DM, you would theoretically reduce silage intake by 4kgs for every 1Kg of Silaboost. It also contains a vastly better mineral/trace element package, with important advantages into pregnancy and late lactation output. The longer the product is fed the greater the gain will become, as the flow of energy and protein will effectively flatten out the lactation curve. NB Ensure cows have access to some long fibre, preferably Hay

NOTE. It is NOT a concentrate replacer, though one can probably cut out a bit of cake and a bit of blend, and the product should be introduced slowly over a few days. Overall concentrate usage will be higher, but the economics will pay, and we would suggest that we will see further milk price increases conceivably quicker then we may as yet think over the next two/three months!

This may all seem somewhat radical, and in a `normal year` we would not need to take such an approach, but we would suggest that this is a route worth considering this year, both in terms of increasing output, and also of economic benefit. This season is proving a difficult one for producers across the country, hence why we are 10% down on National production compared to this time last year.

We had had 3 customers feeding Silaboost Pellets for the past 2 weeks. Each of them have seen an increased milk response of between 2 & 2½ litres per cow. Quite a result!

If you wish to discuss this in more detail and as to how it could be applied in your own system, then please contact:

Gareth Perkins 01948 661602

Nick Sharp 07870 210550

James Lightfoot 07967 448854


To discuss any of these products, along with your other on farm requirements please call GP Feeds on 01948 661602 or use our text line number 07969 808188

Gareth or Rachel (Office)
01948 661602 Fax 01948 871776