Forage forms over 50% of the dry matter intake of dairy cows and more for other ruminant enterprises. Therefore optimising forage quality and quantity according to the production system is critical to profitability.
By using the DN pre-cut grass testing service, farmers are able to make an informed decision as to the best time to cut their grass in order to optimise forage quality. A pre-cut analysis report details the dry matter, crude protein, NDF, sugars and also free nitrates.
The NDF level of the pre-cut report is a good indicator of when to cut the grass to achieve optimum ME levels. Leaving a grass from 35% NDF to 42% NDF could mean losing 1.3 MJ/KG DM.
The sugar level of the grass is important in order for a good fermentation to take place in the clamp. By testing this prior to cutting, an informed decision can be made on whether an additive should be used.
The free nitrate figure gives an indication of whether or not the nitrogen has been fully metabolised to protein. If high nitrate levels are still present then an estimate can be made as to when this grass will be suitable to cut.
Grass testing is also a helpful tool in being able to predict milk yield from grazing. The potential milk yield from grazing differs on every farm and is driven by the intake of grass and not its energy content.
Factors affecting grass intake include sward structure (herbage height, density & mass), grazing management (including hours grazing & spoilage), grass quality, climate and also supplementation of alternative feeds.
For further information about grass testing, or any other service from Dugdale Nutrition, please do not hesitate to contact your local DN Sales Specialist or the Sales Office on 01200 409943.