Measuring Makes More Milk!

September 28, 2017

Measuring Makes More Milk!

Frequent measuring and monitoring of silage from the pit for quality allows for a more accurate milk yield prediction, and correct balance with associated complementary feeds. With the ever increasing focus on efficiency and production costs, knowing what you have got in the pit and how it’s changing through the season is vital.

Silage quality can vary considerably from year to year on farm, however, big differences can be found within the pit. Therefore, frequent silage samples should be taken throughout the course of the year. The main results to consider are: energy, protein and dry matter. The table below displays average analysis of silage from 2017 from 100 different farms in Dumfries and Galloway.

1st Cut silage 2017

Average 2017

Dry Matter


Crude Protein




2nd Cut silage 2017


Dry Matter


Crude Protein




These results are unsurprising considering the little challenges that many faced at the start of the silage season in 2017. These figures will change considerably with 3rd cut silage, due to bad weather conditions. This will result in careful supplementation from concentrates to ensure good levels of milk production.

The effect on milk yields can be greatly affected by the difference from a high (12.1ME) and a low (10.0ME) quality silage. Based on a 12kg/DM the difference between high quality silage and poor quality silage is 4.85MJ. This 4.85MJ of a difference, results in 11.19 litre loss = £11,262.74 per month*.(*120 cows with a milk price of 27.5p/l) Clearly highlighting the importance of high quality silage on milk production. Constant analysis of silage will allow for rations to be adapted to allow for concentrates to ensure good levels of milk production.

Most silage’s are analysed using Near Infra-Red Spectroscopy (NIRS), which involves analysing the light spectrum reflected from the silage. The machine can pick up the subtle differences to the changes in silage quality. By using NIR machines we can test silage on farm with instant results, to allow for your ration to be monitored regularly.

The table below emphasises the importance of regularly analysing your silage. Two silage samples were analysed 3 months apart, whereby, there was a difference in ME values of 1.6MJ. This 1.6MJ of a difference equates to 3.7 litres of milk lost from a 12kg/DM basis. If this 3.7 litres loss in milk was not identified quick enough, this could result in a loss of £3,419.05 per month*. (*120 cows with a milk price of 27.5p/l)

26.06.17 Analysis of 1st cut

11.09.17 Analysis of 1st cut

ME: 11.19

ME: 10.49

Difference of 1.62MJ = 3.4 litres lost.

In conclusion frequent sampling is important to correct potential milk loss, whereby our on farm NIR machines can allow for instant results of your silage throughout the pit, to allow for adjustment in your ration.

Holly Dyer

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