Planning for silage 2021

Contractors like big kit. Modern forage harvesters, therefore, can clear huge amounts of grass leading to greater efficiency and a better cost structure. But this can also lead to poor consolidation at the clamp if loads are heavy and delivered too quickly within a given hour.

The likelihood of a contractor running smaller machines to make a better job of producing quality forage is low. So this winter, as you plan next season’s forage, talk to your contractor about not only cutting silage earlier and more often, but also whether they will alter their work rates to improve silage quality. You will have to do a cost/benefit analysis to justify the extra cost of quality silage, offsetting any increases against more milk from forage and lower concentrate inputs.

And for those struggling to bale small acreages as they skip paddocks during a surplus, think about a mini machinery ring: sharing a baler between, say, five farms. Calculate how many acres a baler needs to cover on each farm to benefit from machinery ownership, maintenance and depreciation costs, as well as tractor running costs, and labour input. Compare this with flexibility and the benefits to the grazing platform.