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The importance of knowing your silage quality
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The importance of knowing your silage quality

Thin cows and fat cows at calving down cause a multitude of issue.  Feeding silage with an unwanted mineral profile can cause a multitude of issues if left unchecked.  A successful 2023 calving seasons starts with a 2022 dry cow feeding plan.


Consequences of the wrong BCS at calving:

Too Thin Too Fat
Increase incidence of lameness Higher degree of negative energy balance at calving will result in: 4-fold increased risk of milk fever, An 80% increased risk of retained cleansing
Low milk yield, milk protein % and milk fat % in early lactation
Poor subsequent fertility performance
Increase degree of immune suppression


Dry Cow Action Plan

1.Analysis Silage: Must measure: DM, DMD (UFL), Preservation, magnesium (mg), potassium (k), and calcium (Ca)

2.Condition Score Dry Cow: Put a feeding plan in place to meet, not exceed requirements.  Spring calving cows need to be in the correct BCS by new years day.

3.Feed a balanced nutritionally enriched mineral: to prevent milk fever, retained afterbirths and mastitis in early lactation


The importance of Knowing DMD or UFL

Assuming your cows dry off in the correct BCS:

  • Moderate quality silage of 65 DMD can meet your cow’s energy requirement up to month 9
  • 70 DMD + silage will put weight on your cows in the far-off dry period
  • All silage except exceptionally good silage of 72+ DMD will require concentrates in the last 3 weeks before calving.

The BIG QUESTION is how you can put a feeding plan in place to allow your cows to calf down in the correct BCS without knowing their current BCS and the silage quality?

Energy requirement of a dry cow
Month 7 Month 8 Month 9
0 BCS change 7 7.5 8.5
Proportion of a dry cow’s energy requirement met by an all grass silage diet
Month 7 Month 8 Month 9
60 DMD silage 95% 88% 67%
65 DMD silage 100%+ 100% 83%
70 DMD silage 100%+ 100%+ 95%



Concentrates required by dry cows x silage quality

Silage DMD
Cow BCS 55 DMD 62 DMD 68 DMD 72 DMD
3 2kg 1kg Silage only Restricted Silage
2.75 3kg 2kg 1kg Silage Only
2.5 4kg 3kg 2kg 1kg


The importance of Knowing the magnesium, potassium, and calcium content of your silage

Your cows Calcium requirement will increase c.7 fold from dry to peak milk.  Milk fever is caused by a lack of calcium.  Once a cow starts to bag up her diet rarely meets her requirement, and she needs to draw calcium from her body reserves.  Dietary magnesium, potassium, and calcium all work together to allow the cow to draw calcium from her body reserves.  How much or little of either needs to be fed within your mineral is influenced by your silage mineral content.


Milk Fever Trouble Shooting:

  • Cow BCS: Fat cows are 4 times more like to suffer from a milk fever
  • Silage K to Mg ratio: 10:1 for K:Mg is desirable. A ratio of 20: 1 is high risk territory.
  • An in between reading is of concern especially if cow BCS is high or if the farm has shown a pervious history of milk fevers.


It is vital that you test your silage and put a feeding plan in place based on your silage results.  Tests are available for straight silage analysis, straight silage analysis  + K, straight silage analysis + Mg, K, Ca, straight silage analysis + full mineral analysis with costs starting from €32.  Please contact your area sales manager or our inside sales team today to arrange sampling.


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