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I have not made a 2nd cut of grass silage, what can I do?

I have not made a 2nd cut of grass silage, what can I do?

1. How much winter forage are you short?

We cannot plan for a solution if we do not know the extent of the problem. It should be everyone’s first priority to get a winter forage budget completed ASAP. Preliminary analysis by Dairygolds Technical Sales Advisor James Bourke would indicate that our suppliers are on average 25% short on winter forage. These are preliminary figures only and that we won’t know the extent of the shortage until more in-depth national figures come out.

Dairygold will be holding winter fodder budgeting workshops in August. In the interim please contact your area sales manager, inside sales on 022 31644 or the Teagasc national helpline on 087 7971377 for information.


2. Have you bought alternative silage standing in the field?

Maize and wholecrop silage can be used to make up some or all of the 2nd cut you missed. 1 acre of Maize is equivalent to c. 4 acres of 2nd cut, 1 acre of wholecrop silage is equivalent to 2.25 acres of 2nd cut (in bulk, assumes 2nd cut yield of 6T/acre, maize silage yield of 20T/acre and wholecrop silage yield of 10T per a/c)


Click Here to see more on how much grass silage maize will replace.

Click Here to see more on how much grass silage wholecrop silage will replace.


3. Lower your grass demand below your average growth rate by using a forage extender

Grass Growth rate:

Our soil at the moment have plenty of heat, we also have fertiliser sitting on the ground. Some rain has come in some parts, plenty more is needed. Our grass has the potential to grow at 25-30% ahead of the average for the months of August and September. See Grass Matters on page 14 for fertiliser advice to keep your grass moving once the rains arrive.

2014-2017 Average growth (kg DM/ha) 2018 potential growth
August 65 80
September 55 65


Grass Demand is made up of:


  1. Our cows daily demand for grass:

With 0kg concentrates in the diet your cows will eat c.16-18kg DM grass daily. Every 1kg of concentrates you feed your cows will drop your grass demand by 0.86kgDM daily. Your cows daily grass intake times your stocking rate makes up your daily demand for grass. If growth rates are greater than demand then you’ve the potential to conserve this excess grass as silage.


Demand (kg DM/ha) at differing stocking rates
3 (lu/ha) 3.5 (lu/ha) 4 (lu/ha)
Grass Demand (grass only) 51 60 68
Grass Demand (grass + 3.5 kg in the parlour) 42 49 56
Grass Demand (grass + 3.5 kg in the parlour + 2 kg of forage extender) 37 43 49
Grass Demand (grass + 3.5 kg in the parlour + 5 kg of forage extender) 29 34 39
Grass Demand (grass + 5 kg in the parlour + 5 kg of forage extender) 25 29 34

*assumes a daily cow intake of 17kg DM


2. The need to grow grass to increase our overall farm cover:


We cannot feed extra concentrates indicated above and conserve the all the extra grass as silage. We need to manage our grass to year end to ensure we:

  1. Keep grass in our cows diets to mid-November
  2. Close up at the correct over all farm cover
  3. Have grass available to our cows next spring


4. Assess Farm Cover

In average years we would have a farm cover of c.500 kgDM/ha at the beginning of August. As a result we can then extend our rotation length, feed some concentrates and spread c.40 units, building a wedge of grass and driving our average farm cover up to c.1100kg by the end of September, i.e we need to grow a surplus of c.600kg above our requirements over the 2 months.


This year our August 1st farm covers will be on the floor and we will have a requirement to build anywhere from 800 to 1000kg DM of grass to meet our end September target.


Balancing the books:

When assessing how much extra grass feeding additional concentrates can generate we must:

  1. Feed the cow
  2. Build a wedge of grass
  3. Close the farm in the correct cover to ensure we have grass next spring


Dairygold have developed a tool to calculate the amount of silage that you could potentially preserve from August to October by feeding extra concentrates to lower feed demand. Please Click Here to download.


Click Here to see the full range of Dairygold Grass Extender Options.