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How good is your silage?

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Sheep and beef in south-west Victoria are being challenged to produce quality silage with an informative field day.

A field day at Coleraine on September 18 hosted by the Western District branch of the Grassland Society of Southern Australia will help producers to make better silage.

The field day will cover a range of topics on silage making and its advantages in sheep and beef production systems. Participants will also take a field trip to John and Lachie Tindall’s dairy farm, north east of Casterton to see silage making in action.

During ‎the field day, pasture and fodder conservation specialist Frank Mickan will outline the best methods for making quality silage. Pasture nutritionist Phil White will talk about nutritional and fertiliser requirements for grass to grow and the best species to produce silage, and livestock consultant Graham Lean will discuss the costs associated with making hay and silage.

Western District Grassland Society branch president Dr Steve Cotton said that while many dairy farmers were good at making silage, beef and sheep farmers were less successful.

“Samples we receive from dairy clients are typically very good, but what the average sheep and beef farmer produces is usually sub-optimal,” Cotton said.

Cotton said farmers needed to concentrate on quality over quantity and get their timing right.

“People get bogged down in waiting for their pasture to produce a lot more dry matter before they cut it,” he said.

“They should be looking for quality not quantity, which is particularly important for silage more so than hay. Hay is a bit more forgiving than silage.”

Cotton said timing was crucial in producing good quality silage.

“Getting the cutting, the curing, the raking, the baling and the wrapping done within two or three days is essential,” he said.

“Some farmers and contractors leave it too long and the quality deteriorates. It’s important to get it wrapped up and done within two to three days of cutting.”

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