The Importance of Forage Analysis in an Effective Winter Feed Plan

November 4, 2020

With autumn in full swing and winter fast approaching many farmers minds are now turning to winter turn in. To accurately plan for winter and ensure best results for stock during this time a winter feed plan is key with forage analysis being a crucial part in planning.

Once forage is cut, pitted, or baled and wrapped, it
should then be left to ferment for a minimum of 6 weeks
before it can be analysed by an on farm nutritionist in
order to determine the quality of the forage. Analysis of
silage allows us to determine important parameters such as dry matter, crude protein, metabolic energy, fibre content and also the preservation of the crop. By having access to this knowledge, it allows better winter planning allowing us to allocate which forage should be fed to each age group on farm. This also allows us to assess the best quality concentrate or bespoke meal to complement forage to ensure best results from feed provided.

Youngstock: For youngstock, we are looking for a good dry matter within the target range (around 30% DM) a higher protein vital for healthy growth (>12%) and high levels of energy, vital for promoting live weight gain (>12 MJ/kg).

Finishing Stock: Finishing stock benefit from a silage lower in protein (10-12%) with a good level of energy to promote flesh during the finishing period. (>12 MJ/kg).

Breeding Stock: Silage for breeding stock very much depends on stage of production, with dry cows requiring decent quality forage, slightly higher in dry matter can also be beneficial. Closer up to calving, it is important a good quality forage in provided higher in protein and energy to support both mother and young.

If you would like to analyse your forage and discuss winter feed planning, please do not hesitate to get in contact with your Davidsons Feed Advisor.

Lorna Shaw

Previous post:

Next post: