GROWING or contract growing fodder may present a better long-term solution for many livestock producers in managing feed inventory and costs, according to Lallemand Animal Nutrition's Jordan Minniecon.
The company's Toowoomba, Qld, based technical services manager, Mr Minniecon said the drought was a compelling reminder for livestock producers to continually focus on their longer-term feeding strategies.
"A lot of extensive livestock producers think that feeding silage is purely in the domain of feedlots or large dairies with their own cropping programs," he said.
"Nothing could be further from the truth.
"Silage made from irrigated or dryland crops forms the backbone of hundreds of feeding systems in dairy, beef and sheep enterprises throughout Australia."
Livestock producers are using baled silage through to large bulk silage systems.
"It really comes down to developing a silage system that meets the needs of each situation from drought reserves through to high level production," Mr Minniecon said. "Some are using silage in their weaning programs to make sure heifers and mature breeders achieve critical mating weights and body condition scores.
"For others, silage is part of an intensive production systems for milk and meat and as reserves to sustain production or maintain their precious genetic base during bad years to limit destocking.
"Many beef producers are also increasingly using silage in their back-grounding or finishing programs to make sure their steers achieve market specifications and leave the property on time."
Although the majority of silage produced nowadays is consumed within 12 to 18 months, silage can be stored for 10, 20 or even 30 years and managed as a long-term drought management strategy.
Lallemand Animal Nutrition has been involved in the Australian livestock industry since the early 1990s and continues to provide an integrated silage production service, including inoculants, sealing systems and management advice.
Lallemand technical services manager David Lewis said talking about how to prepare for dry times during a drought might seem insensitive. "But now is exactly the right time for producers to consider and plan how they might be able to change their system," he said. "Attempting to source feed when it's dry is never the best strategy because everyone is facing the same problem."
Demand quickly outstrips supply, prices go through the roof and the quality of the remaining resource becomes variable and often geographically unfeasible to transport.
A tool that silage producers can and should use to ensure they produce, preserve and feed the largest amounts of the highest quality silage, are research-proven high -quality bacterial forage inoculants.
While there are numerous additives available to producers, selecting the best and most effective one for their farm should not be a difficult task.
Mr Lewis said using the right bacterial inoculant was part of an overall silage management program that would help producers achieve higher quality silages.
Selecting a suitable inoculant is about more than just managing the fermentation at silage harvest time; it's about storing and delivering high quality silage and fresh hygienic feed to animals for production at feed out as well, he said.
"Take into account your silage history and the challenges you face," Mr Lewis said.
"Generally, high protein crops present a greater fermentation challenges, while high starch crops have greater aerobic stability issues."
Also, be aware of specific challenges due to weather such as crop dry matter, drought, hail, crop maturity and factors such as insect damage and field disease.
"Selecting a research-proven inoculant wisely and following the manufacturer's directions for storage and application will help ensure that the maximum benefits are obtained and maximise the return on investment in preserving silage," Mr Lewis said.
Lallemand is a distributor of the patented Silostop range of oxygen barrier films, which are manufactured using food grade barrier and polyethylene resins.
Lallemand also has a range of conventional white and black PE silage films up to 20 metres wide which incorporates new five- and seven-layer technology, as well as woven protection covers and gravel bag sealing weights, which are ideal for longer term silage storage.D
Article supplied by Lallemand Animal Nutrition, website https://lallemandanimalnutrition.com/en/australia/.
Read more stories like this on Australian Dairyfarmer