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Investment in correct silage inoculant helps safeguard against changeable weather

Taken from British Dairying newsletter

Farmers are being advised not to leave silage fermentation to chance next year after a wet spring and variable summer resulted in poor fermentation in clamps across the country. Reports from the College of Agriculture Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) in Northern Ireland showed silage dry matters fluctuated from teens to, in some cases, over 50%. Harry Sykes, Area Sales Manager for EnviroSystems, reports a similar picture on many of his clients' farms, with increasingly unpredictable weather creating challenges when silage-making.

He said: "Wet and dry silages create challenges for silage fermentation, leading to spoilage and possible secondary fermentation, negatively affecting intakes and cow health. Whilst nothing can substitute for good silaging-making practices, the extreme weather conditions we are witnessing are making it harder for farmers to produce consistent, high-quality silages." EnviroSystems has been working with their clients to stabilise clamps using a three-strain inoculant, which helps provide an insurance policy when conditions are less than ideal.

OptiSile is a biological silage inoculant designed to treat all types of grass silage. The three strains of lactobacillus bacteria in the inoculant work by outcompeting invasive bacteria or fungi to ensure optimum ensiling of the forage throughout the initial fermentation. The higher concentration of Lactobacillus plantarum in the product provides a more robust buffering capability of the grass, ensuring a rapid pH drop to promote the initial fermentation. This not only helps to maximise nutrient preservation, but it also minimises losses, protects against mycotoxins and can help improve palatability and intake. Most silage additives contain lactobacillus bacteria, but OptiSile has a targeted blend of 3 strains that work together to protect forage from losses.

Sykes explained: "The first strain quickly dominates the forage and secretes large quantities of lactic acid, which provides the driving force behind the rapid pH drop. This creates conditions unfavourable for pathogenic bacteria such as Clostridia and Listeria to survive in. Our second strain produces a mixture of lactic and acetic acid, which is included due to acetic acid's invaluable antifungal activity against mycotoxin producing fungi and yeasts. Finally, once the pH of the clamp has lowered to ~ pH 5, strains 1 and 2 slow down, but this is where our third strain thrives, and continues to secrete lactic and acetic acid. This provides long term antimicrobial protection and enhanced air stability once the clamp face is opened during feed out," he said. By helping produce a better silage, farmers can get their cows eating more forage, an increased nutrient intake, a higher milk-from-forage return, all whilst requiring less bought-in feed, thereby offering a double return on investment.

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