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Silage 2022

  • 24-03-2022 7:50pm
    Registered Users Posts: 8,115 ✭✭✭

    As there is a grazing thread, thought there might as well be a silage thread too.

    I'm taking a increased role in the farm now and part of that will be deciding on when to cut for silage. Previously, the emphasis would have been on quantity and all grass would have headed out for a while prior to cutting. As long as it was baled dry that is all that mattered, although it would be stalky.

    What I would like to do (and tell me if I am wrong here) is to get some of the paddocks baled at over 74DMD for cows post calving and some weanlings which we will be bringing on through the winter.

    However, TBH I've no idea how we should be testing the grass prior to cutting to check it is ready. Can this be done at home or must it be bagged and sent in to some place for analysis? If it can be done at home how do you go about it?




  • Registered Users Posts: 548 ✭✭✭Morris Moss

    Don't let it head out would be the first step anyway.

  • Registered Users Posts: 29,205 ✭✭✭✭whelan2

    See the lad who does my silage bales was wrapping silage today. First of the year

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,144 ✭✭✭DBK1

    There is a Silage 2022 thread already, maybe @blue5000 could merge this in with it?

    There is an analysis you can get done on grass before cutting but it’s not something a lot of lads would do. Usually it’s a service that might be provided by an additive supplier if you are using a reasonable amount of their product but how accurate the results might be from someone trying to sell you a product they claim will improve your silage could be questionable!

    A test like that is not really necessary. If you want high dmd silage you need to be cutting before it’s headed out. Heading date for the majority of grasses grown in Ireland would be around the 20th May. So if you want high dmd silage you need to be mowing it around that time. Heading date stays practically the same regardless of the amount of fertiliser used.

    While dmd is important it’s not the be all and end all on silage quality as some advisory organisations will try to persuade you! Dry Matter is also as, or possibly more, important and for young stock and weanlings protein is equally as important. To have the best balance between quality silage and bulk it needs to be well fertilised, cut when less than 25-30% of the grass has headed out and dried and baled as quick as possible then.

    If it’s cut in 25 degrees plus and lovely breezy days then that’s a very simple job and spread wide with a conditioner mower, left for 24-36 hours, raked up and left half a day in the rows then that should be sufficient. If the weather is not as favourable it will need to be tedded out. This will help to dry it. Some lads will tell you tedding is only wasting money and if they weather is right I’d agree with them but if the weather isn’t right then it’s a job that has to be done. Leaving the cut grass any longer than 48 hours on the ground starts to quickly reduce the protein content and while you dm and dmd may still be sufficient you will still need expensive soya or ration in the winter to balance for the lack of protein.

    Somewhere in the mid 30’s I find the best for dm%. Under 30 and it’s too wet and creates a lot of work handling them along with it going sour if bales aren’t used relatively quick after opening in winter. Over 40 and you’re getting towards haylage more than silage and that might be fine for your dry cows but not as good for young stock that need the power to grow.

    The other thing I try and get customers who want quality silage to do is not to be trying to cut all the silage at one time. Aim to have your silage spread over a few weeks and that way if weather turns bad you won’t get caught with it all. Also try and make your priority silage first, ie. the best silage you need. At least then if you get enough of that at the beginning of the season your’re not as worried about getting it in later cuts. I’d have lads that decide to cut their dry cow silage first to get bulk, they leave it grow til mid June and get a heavy poor quality crop that they're delighted with for cows. Then they aim for a quality second cut for young stock, the weather could go against them and it ends up as poor quality silage as well. Now you have a whole winter of buying extra ration to compensate for the silage. So that’s why I’d be saying to lads to aim for their best quality silage first.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,606 ✭✭✭older by the day

    Same as yourselves. I like to see swarths like Ditchs running up and down the field and docks like pike handles sticking out. All changes this year top quality only 😂. Problem is weather breaks the first week of June and the contractor is up to his eyes. I might try bales. At least you could take fields out when they are fit

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,115 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey

    We'd usually cut in late June or July. I think I'll try to convince to cut a field before it heads and see what happens.

    @DBK1 - lots of good info in your post, thanks.

    Found this which is helpful. There is a table on screen at the end which shows how to find the dm% yourself.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,057 ✭✭✭bogman_bass

    The secret is aim for a cutting date that allows for good quality silage and work backwards from there. So, last week of May ideally.

    Then 2 units a day on N take up so if you are going with 5 bags of 18-6-12 for example that’s 90 units spread 45 days pre cutting so you would want it spread by the 10th of April at the latest

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,144 ✭✭✭DBK1

    That's exactly correct, and the one piece of info as regards fert that I forgot to put into my post.

  • Registered Users Posts: 483 ✭✭FarmerBrowne

    I have a few acres that I never got cut last backend, thinking of wrapping it this week, would there be enough sugars in the grass to preserve it yet?

  • Registered Users Posts: 827 ✭✭✭Sugarbowl

    Check your local co op. They might test it for you and give you an idea of what it’s like. When it’s gonna be costly, you might as well do it right.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,236 ✭✭✭Dunedin

    Cut and bale away. This fine spell is perfect for it. I’m baled 100 bales of that type this week.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,115 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey

    So I recently put out slurry at 3000gal/ac so that has a textbook value of 6-5-30 per 1000gal. That's approx 18 units of N.

    Do you need that much N? I don't think we would ever put it near that amount. Normally would have been about 2 bags/acre. What would be the effect of a lower amount?

  • Registered Users Posts: 483 ✭✭FarmerBrowne

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,378 ✭✭✭✭Reggie.

    Going mowing 9 acres for the BIL as soon as weather sorts itself out after this cold spell

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,011 ✭✭✭Neddyusa

    If it's worthwhile mowing, I wouldn't be waiting. After 9 consecutive drier than normal months, once this dry spell breaks, I wouldn't be surprised if it rains til June.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,236 ✭✭✭Dunedin

    One day. It hardly even needed it as it very dry. You’d probably get away with mowing and baling on the same day.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,236 ✭✭✭Dunedin

    Would you not try to get it before the weather changes

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,011 ✭✭✭Neddyusa

    Measured some swards of standing grass at 25 and 26% DM this week.

    I was shocked, but that's what sun, frost and an east wind can do at this time of year.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,433 ✭✭✭✭Danzy

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,378 ✭✭✭✭Reggie.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,011 ✭✭✭Neddyusa

    Yep, as my grandfather used to say, stock are happy with a "lick of the ground" in that weather!

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  • Registered Users Posts: 849 ✭✭✭Easten

    Got another Silage field finished grazed today. I went out with 3k Gallons of Slurry / acre. It's on good land so I'm hoping the slurry might be enough to get a crop. If not I'll just let it grow away until July and take a crop of hay instead weather permitting.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,204 ✭✭✭weatherbyfoxer

    put out 70 units of urea yeasterday on 8 acres of index 4 P and K ground hopefully get a nice cut off it the 2nd week of may

  • Registered Users Posts: 272 ✭✭orchard farm

    You’d want a real heat wave to kill meadow grass that got slurry for hay

  • Registered Users Posts: 849 ✭✭✭Easten

    I'd make hayledge if possible as it has a much better feed value, but hay if it goes too steamy.

    Some heavy rain promised over the next week so I'm glad I got that much Slurry out while dust was rising off the ground.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,942 ✭✭✭alps

    Slurry on 10 days and has dried on now.

    Any thoughts?

    Will it was wash down with enough rain in time, sit on the grass and come back in the silage, damage the reseed underneath?

    Can burst it up with a grass harrow, or is it just harmless?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,914 ✭✭✭cute geoge

    We hear all the raving about dribble bars but this is the reality .I spread my watery slurry with a splash plate on a showery day and all is washed in.

    Who is wrong and who is right??

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,125 ✭✭✭Grueller

    Same happened a neighbour here and he left it last year and cut away on his silage after. No harm seems to have been done even though you could still see the traces of the lines of slurry on the ground after mowing.

  • Registered Users Posts: 849 ✭✭✭Easten

    I've noticed that from a few places that were done with the dribble bar. I think it is down to the macerator, it makes a kinda film out of the slurry that doesn't seem to break down. I don't think it does any harm

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,115 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,183 ✭✭✭ruwithme

    It looks like the devil alright, sitting in lines dried on the ground. Slurry really does need to be water thin to avoid picture above. & when that's the case, nout wrong with the splash plate when dry weather ahead is the forecast after application.