Consider taking 1st cut silage early this year

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“Consider taking 1st cut silage early this year,” says Duncan Rose of Carrs Billington.

Grass growth has been well ahead of average this spring and, in some weeks, growth was measured at double the rate of last year. Despite the cold snap last week, we would recommend that many farmers consider taking their first cut sooner than they may be typically thinking.

I have walked over many grass fields in the North West of England during the last week and have been surprised at how advanced some silage crops are. One customer near Preston has already cut new seeds that were sown after a maize crop last autumn and one North Cumbrian dairy farmer has cut Italian rye grass for silage.

Another Preston farm I visited last week already had cutting grass at the four leaf stage and they will cut two weeks sooner than usual at the end of this week. A Cheshire client, who grazed some fields down to 1600kg DM/ha at the end of February will silage these same fields next week. His grass has grown 1.75 times quicker this spring than last year.

Every farm is different but it is important to be alert to the fact that it could be a very early cutting year and you may need to phone your contractor soon! Good quality, high D Value first cut silage is vital for good milk yields and lower bought in feed costs next winter.