Don’t underestimate the cost of waste silage

Thursday 4 May 2017

It’s easy to ignore waste silage, but it could significantly reduce your farms’ profitability. And neglecting clamp management will cost dairy farmers dear.

“When we consider the two million tonnes of maize silage dry matter grown in the UK each year, and assume a 12% waste figure, at a cost of £100/t DM, it equates to a staggering £24million. Even with conservative expectations, this could easily be halved by simply reviewing the method of sheeting used,” according to Jennifer Hitchman, technical manager, Silostop.

“Dairy farmers invest huge amounts of time and energy each year into producing nutritious maize forage for their livestock enterprises, and this investment needs protecting when it comes to clamp management,” she says. A high level of attention should be also seen in clamp management,” she suggests. “Often a small change in sealing the clamp can result in huge differences in silage quality and therefore nutritional value.

“All too often farmers focus on reducing costs to maximise returns, and accept the costs of dry matter losses,” she adds. “However, with some small adjustments in clamp management, that cost can be greatly reduced, with the added financial benefit of reducing any health and performance issues that arise from feeding poorer quality forage: a cost not factored in to the £24 million already highlighted.”

“Feeding the waste silage compromises the health of your herd, as well as potentially reducing growth rates and fertility. There’s also the labour and machinery costs of handling waste not consumed by animals,” she adds. “I really cannot emphasise enough how these costs should not be ignored, particularly when a large portion of them can be avoided with improved attention to detail. We all know the basic need to avoid oxygen entering the silage, and so to protect the ensiled clamp, which is a large financial asset to the business, farmers should consider the most effective barrier available to them,” Jennifer says.