Feeds success
Management tips Ensiling & forage production

Silage management - tips for successful grass silage

Häcksler bei der Grasernte

High-quality staple food is the basis for successful and cost effective milk production. The right time of the first cut is particularly crucial. A delayed cut leads to nutrient losses and thus to poorer quality silage. The feed intake decreases and the milk yield drops. SCHAUMANN gives tips for optimal silage management.

Cutting time and height

Depending on the type of grass used, stands are ready for cutting approx. 30-45 days after reaching the corrected grassland temperature of 200 degrees. The height of growth also provides information about the cutting maturity: 25-40 cm is considered ready for cutting. There should be a maximum of 20-25 days between the first and second cut. As the time of cutting increases, the energy and protein content of the plant material decreases (see Figure 1). Experience from past years has shown that especially the second cut is often harvested too late. The crude fiber content of the harvested material was then often above the upper limit of 240 g crude fiber/kg dry matter (see Figure 2).

A cutting height of at least 8 cm is optimal. The lower yield, which is associated with the high device setting, is compensated by significantly cleaner silages. Follow-up devices (such as reversers) can then also work without soiling. The mown grass dries better and is better absorbed.

TIP: Turn the swath once after mowing. If individual blades are brown on the cutting edge, you should correct the cutting height.

Wilting and field retention time

As short as possible wilting to 28-35% TM allows for optimal ensiling. Too wet silages lead to butyric acid fermentation.Too dry silages can be difficult to compact and lead to spoilage. Above 45-50% TM, proper compaction is no longer possible. The field retention time should be less than 24 hours to avoid energy losses.

Chop length

The optimal chop length is 10-40 mm. It is a prerequisite for exact compaction, better silo utilisation and lower losses. Generally speaking, the more fibre-rich and dry the silage, the shorter the chop length.

Silage additives

In addition to the basic rules for ensiling, the BONSILAGE silage additives with their different directions of action support the fermentation process (see Figure 3). The selection of the correct silage additive is of great importance for the silage to be harvested. Figure 4 shows the five steps to consider when choosing the appropriate BONSILAGE silage additive. A refractometer can be used to estimate the sugar contents (see Figure 5). See at nr. 6 our video below for more information.

Compaction and coverage

The entry of oxygen leads to reheating and thus to energy and TM losses. The better the silage is compacted, the less oxygen can penetrate during the extraction.
Measures for optimal compaction:

  • Max. 15-20 cm layer thickness after unloading
  • Tyre pressure at least 2 bar
  • No twin tyres
  • Max. 3-4 km/h rolling speed
  • Rolling from the beginning

Immediately after completing the re-rolling, the silo must be covered correctly: Underlay film (strength: 40-50 μ), gas-tight main foil (strength: 150-250 μ), silo protection grille for weighting and protection against damage, silosacks as weighting and airtight barrier, side wall foil on side walls.

TIP: In addition to the strength of the silage film, gas density, elasticity, UV and acid resistance are important quality features.

Cutting surface

The sampling technique should damage the gate area as little as possible to minimise air entry.

BONSILAGE, ensiling agents
Fig. 1: If the crude fiber content increases, the value-determining ingredients in grassland decrease
Basic parameters for grass silage
Fig. 2: At a glance – key silage parameters
Ensiling agent BONSILAGE BASIC
Fig. 2: BONSILAGE BASIC products optimise the fermentation process and stabilise the silage
The right silage additive
Fig. 4: the right silage additive in five steps
Fig. 5: Choice of silage additive for grass silage depending on sugar and DM contents.