What to do with poor quality forages

Scottish farmers have suffered one of the worst harvests this year, with the result that forage quality is extremely mixed.

However, all is not lost – high temperature dried lucerne can play a valuable role on farms faced with the prospect of having to feed poor silage.

According to Trevor Rees, Dengie Product Manager, livestock farmers in Scotland and the north of England are facing a challenging winter with poorer quality first cuts and lighter subsequent cuts. At the same time, alternative feeds are already in short supply making ration formulation particularly difficult.

Poor Quality Forage“Silage stocks will have to be stretched to last the winter while at the same time it will be essential to feed sufficient fibre to ensure effective rumen function,” he said.

Trevor suggests that Rumiplus dried lucerne could be an ideal ingredient because the rumen buffering capacity and rumination provided by the scratch factor and structural fibre will help encourage rumen health and ensure a more consistent rumen pH, even where more concentrates have to be fed. He says that wet, acidic silages will require extra buffering irrespective of the levels of rapidly fermented carbohydrates fed as cereals. “The natural way to buffer rumen is through rumination and saliva production. The target is 50,000 chewing movements per day, equivalent to 20-20 minutes chewing per kgDM fed. Supplying high levels of quality fibre, Rumiplus averages 40-80 minutes chewing/kgDM, stimulating increased saliva production. And, at 88% dry matter it will help stimulate overall forage intakes by giving a more open structure to the diet which combined with a pH of 6.5-7, has a natural buffering effect.”

At 10MJ ME and 17% protein, dried lucerne delivers the structural and buffering benefits without reducing nutrient density of the whole diet, unlike straw or hay. The high temperature drying process also reduces the degradability of protein meaning bypass protein levels are increased. Typical feed rates are 1.5-4.0 kg/cow/day.

“Rumiplus is supplied in 420kg bales making it quick and easy to incorporate into a TMR with minimal waste. Farmers looking for a cost-effective way to eke out silage stocks this winter will find that dried lucerne can help improve rumen health and forage utilisation offsetting some of the impact of the difficult summer,” Trevor comments.

For further information on Rumiplus click here or alternatively contact Trevor Rees on 07802 829525