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How much grass silage will wholecrop silage replace?

How much grass silage will wholecrop silage replace?

By Diarmuid O’Riordan IASIS, TMR Area Sales Manager, Dairygold Agri Business


The yield of wholecrop can vary from 8-16T depending the grain yield.

  Winter Wheat Spring Barley Spring Barley
Grain Yield potential @ 20% MC 4 3 2
Expected total yield T fresh (grain + straw) 14.5 11 8.5


Assuming your wholecrop silage yields 10T per acre and is 35% DM then every acre has the potential to feed 3 cows over a 3 month winter.

The number of cows fed across the winter by differing areas of 10T per acre crop of wholecrop (assume maize is the only forage available)::

Area 3 Months 4 Months 5 Months
10 acres 32 24 19
15 acres 49 36 29
20 acres 65 49 39
25 acres 81 61 49
30 acres 97 73 58
40 acres 130 97 78
50 acres 162 122 97


How does wholecrop silage compare to grass silage?

The feeding value of whole crop cereal silage can vary from inferior to grass silage to being superior, with the difference in nutritive value being predominantly determined by the content of the developed grain. Winter wheat and spring barley, both at 50% grain in the harvested DM, can have similar and excellent nutritive value.


Wholecrop vs Grass silage

  Winter Wheat Spring Barley Spring Barley
Grain Yield potential @ 20% MC 4 3 2
Feed value, equivalent DMD 74%+ 74%+ 65%
Feed value, equivalent UFL 0.83 0.83 0.72


To get the best from your wholecrop keep if for your freshly calved cows. It works well with grass silage when being fed 50:50 or as a buffer once cows go out to grass. As wholecrop is lower in protein you will need to use higher protein balancer feeds.


Concentrates required by freshly calved cow’s milk 25ltrs on Wholecrop silage and Grass silage:

Grass silage 65 DMD 8.5kg Post calver gold 18%
Grass silage 70 DMD 7kg Post calver gold 18%
50% Grass Silage (70 DMD) + 50% Wholecrop (4Tcrop) 8kg Balancer gold 22.5%
50% Grass Silage (70 DMD) + 50% Wholecrop (2Tcrop) 8.5kg Balancer gold 22.5%

Allows for 0.3 BCS loss in early lactation

Can I feed wholecrop to my dry cows?

Poorer grain yielding crops could be used in dry cow diets but your cows will need a protein source to fill the protein deficit.

Example diets for dry cows, dried off in a condition score of 3:

Grass Silage only 50% Grass silage + 50% Wholecrop
Grass Silage only Kg (Fresh) 50% Grass silage + 50% Wholecrop Kg (Fresh) 50% Grass silage + 50% Wholecrop Kg (Fresh)
Grass silage (70 DMD) 40 Grass silage (70 DMD) 15 Grass silage (70 DMD) 12
  Wholecrop (2T crop) 15 Wholecrop (4T crop) 12
Soya 0.5 Soya 0.75
  Straw 2


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