Planning for Spring Silage

Neil Griffiths

Technical Specialist Pasture Production

NSW DPI

Making spring silage will depend on seasonal conditions that enable a genuine surplus of forage to grow or a major problem in cropping areas such as drought, late frost or hail where silage may be a salvage exercise. Choice of silage method will depend on machinery and contractors available and relative cost. While bulk chopped silage may be a cheap option, wrapped bales will always incur the cost of plastic and therefore must be of premium feed quality to be profitable.

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Speed Up Wilting

“Wilted silage, ideally, should be in the pit or bale within 24 – 36 hours of mowing,” says Frank Mickan, Pasture and Fodder Conservation Specialist, NRE, Ellinbank. The longer the cut pasture or crop is wilted on the ground before harvesting, the larger the losses in quality (energy and protein) and dry matter. Also greater is the risk of the next shower of rain resulting in even higher losses.

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Guide to Dry Matter Testing of Silage

Frank Mickan is the Pasture and Fodder Conservation Specialist with the Department Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) at Elinbank in Victoria. 

“Silage should be made at the correct dry matter, if possible, to ensure a desirable lactic acid fermentation in the absence of air soon after harvesting and sealing,” says Frank Mickan, Fodder and Pasture Specialist, Natural Resources and Environment, Ellinbank. Undesirable and/or mouldy silages will be the result of silage made too dry or too wet. These silages will be less palatable, lower quality and not so pleasant to smell or handle.

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Tips on Mowing and Wilting for Quality Silage

Frank Mickan is the Pasture and Fodder Conservation Specialist with the Department Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) at Elinbank in Victoria.

Key Aims:

  • To mow early to ensure high quality silage & plentiful regrowth.
  • To wilt the crop to the desired dry matter % ASAP after mowing.
  • To compact stacks tightly, sealed within 1 – 3 days of harvesting preferably.
  • To bale tightly, sealing within 0 – 3hours of baling, ideally at storage site.
  • Fix holes ASAP after being noticed with specific silage tapes.

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