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Grass to Save Cash

01 July 2016

GLOBAL - Grass silage is an often overlooked alternative to purchased grain or corn (maize) silage that can support healthy, high-producing dairy herds while reducing feed costs—provided that it is ensiled correctly. Here’s how to use grass to save cash on your farm.

Grass silage has been unfairly treated: it is often excluded from the ration for a too high fiber content and low digestibility that can reduce feed intake and milk production. Yet, this poor reputation is largely undeserved. Grasses are an inexpensive and market-independent diet ingredient that, if managed properly, provide a good source of protein. They are suited to a wide range of soils and climates, and have the added benefit of being frost resistant. Compared to alfalfa, grasses are less sensitive to pests and dry faster than alfalfa. They often need just 24 hours for wilting, and even less in hot summer months. They also provide an additional option for applying manure. Table 1 lists the benefits of properly ensilaged grasses for cows, including high palatability, better gut health, improved milk composition and lower incidence of acidosis and metabolic disorders. The shift in rumen fermentation from non-fiber carbohydrate (NFC) to neutral detergent fiber (NDF) is particularly advantageous when mixed with high energy ingredients.


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