For a good silage crop that will feed the cows through winter, when they are housed under cover, we need the right balance of grass quantity and quality. It can be quite delicate as the grass deteriorates once it gets beyond the optimal growth rate and starts to go to seed. Silage made from grass that has gone over in this way is poorer in nutrition so the cows produce less milk, which means expensive bought-in feed is required to supplement their winter diet.Last week we studied the weather forecast intently looking for a couple of days of dry weather so that the contractor could come and cut the grass for silage. It shouldn’t be too much to ask in May but the month has been unusually wet and cold (at least it was until silaging was over). However, we grabbed our two day slot…Day 1: Mowing

We cut seventy acres of grass for this first crop of silage using two mowers on each of the contractor’s tractors. Day 2: Tedding

Spreading the mown grass out to dry was delayed until mid-morning when the dew was off and the wind got up a bit. The grass needs to be as dry as possible as any moisture affects quality.Rowing up

Chopping

The contractors pick up fifteen acres an hour with the big forage harvester or chopper. Thirty years ago twenty five acres in one long day was regarded as productive silaging.Buckraking

Once the trailer has tipped its load, the JCB is used to pile the grass to the back of the silage clamp.A job well done…

It’s essential to have a sniff and a squeeze of the grass to assess its quality before sheeting up! We cover the grass mountain in black plastic and weigh it down with old tyres.

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