Milking for profit

Crimping with the best preservative

CRIMPING home-grown cereals can give dairy farmers ‘considerable advantages’, says Andy Strzelecki of Kelvin Cave, especially if the correct preservative is used at ensiling.

Mr Strzelecki says crimping grain is beneficial, as the mycotoxin challenge is lower than in dry grain, due to the crop being harvested before fungal diseases have a chance affect the grain.

In addition, harvesting at the crimping stage (when moisture is 35-40 per cent) results in a concentrate with higher digestibility than dry grain.

Mr Strzelecki says figures from a recent trial in Lithuania demonstrated cows fed rations containing crimped barley ate 0.3kg more silage DM per day and produced 1.3 litres more milk with higher butterfat and protein than cows fed the same ration with dry barley.

But good preservation is essential to get good results. He says: “It is important to harvest at the correct moisture content of 35 to 40 per cent (60 to 65 per cent DM), which is usually a good three weeks before the grain could be harvested dry.

“Crimping and ensiling should be completed no more than 24 hours after harvest, the preservative being applied as the grain is crimped. Great care should be taken to exclude all air from the clamp by rolling the grain down in thin layers in a ‘Dorset Wedge’.

“Sealing the clamp with good quality vacuum film and black silage sheet, with plenty of weight on top will ensure top quality feed, going a long way to reducing bought in concentrate bills.”

Mr Strzelecki says the choice of preservative will also make a big difference with buffered acids resulting in a better feed than using a biological additive containing Lactobacillus buchneri.

He says a trial in the Republic of Ireland last year saw grain with an average DM content of 60 per cent crimped, ensiled, and then analysed 90 days later. Grain treated with buffered acids had a DM of 59.7 per cent but that treated with L.buchneri had a much lower DM of 50.95 per cent (see table).

 Average DM post ensiling (%)Average CP (%DM)Average Starch (%DM)Average Sugar (%DM)pH
Buffered acids59.710.556.356.533.95
Lactobacillus buchneri50.951158.151.5554.1

DM loss

“DM loss during fermentation results from the activity of Lactobacillus buchneri,” he says.

“This bacterium uses sugar to produce acetic acid, but because this type of fermentation also produces carbon dioxide, considerable amounts of energy are lost and a reduction in organic matter digestibility also occurs.

“The buffered acid-treated grain has a calculated ME of 12.98MJ per kg DM compared to L.buchneri-treated grain with an ME of 12.38MJ. Including ensiling losses, the difference is the energy equivalent of more than 270 litres of milk per tonne of grain ensiled.”

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