With good grass silage value rising to £60 a tonne (and maybe even higher) dairy farmers can’t afford to make mediocre quality silage this season.

Now, more than ever, producing high quality grass silage in a multi-cut system stacks up financially, says Kite Consulting’s David Levick.

With feed and fertiliser prices so high, good quality silage is more valuable and David is urging farmers to make sure it’s as good as possible.

David said: “With good silage now worth an estimated £60 per tonne it’s so important that every mouthful of silage your cows eat is of the highest quality.

“Silage shouldn’t just be palatable, but also of the highest nutrient value you can make.

“When fertiliser prices rose to £650/tonne, Kite Consulting calculated that silage making costs jumped from £25 last year to nearer £50/tonne.

"Now, with fertiliser prices even higher – if it’s even available at all - we’ve calculated that silage making costs have added around 3.5p per litre to the costs of milk production and we could even see silage costs rising to £70 per tonne.

"And, while milk prices have risen to help cover these increases, the cost of making grass silage has way more than doubled.

“At these prices it is critical we maximise feed value and minimise wastage, so let’s look at the relative feed values.

“With the cost of the simplest energy and protein feed sources, such as rape and wheat, having recently risen to over £440/tonne and £350 /tonne respectively, grass or grass silage is still, by a long way, the best value feed we can give our cows.

"It’s around 60 per cent better value for money than rape and wheat and this holds true even with the lower feed prices being quoted for this winter.”

This is where a multi-cut grass silage system comes into its own.

Grass is cut more often across the season, while leaving a higher stubble height and green cover behind, encouraging faster grass regrowth.

“The highest quality part of the plant is harvested and ensiled so the silage itself is a higher nutritional value, but the multi-cut system also utilises the slurry and fertiliser farmers apply after each cut more efficiently.

"The green leaf sward left behind by multi-cutting is better able to use the nutrients straight away to maximise regrowth,” said David.

Cutting height is vital.

“Spreading slurry and fertiliser onto a green leaf stubble, rather than a shorter stubble, reduces leaching, volatility and wastage.

“Most importantly, it prevents the ground from drying out, which does a lot of sward damage.”

With, ideally, 60 per cent of the cow’s diet coming from forage, high energy, high protein grass silage with high levels of very digestible fibre really drives the rumen.

“With a multi-cut system, we see around 45 per cent more protein and 35 per cent more energy produced per acre over the season than in a conventional silage system,” said David.

“How much would that cost you to replace with purchased feed at today’s prices?"