The Ploughing is over for another year and that means early evening darkness and the beginning of the last grazing rotation on most farms.
Unfortunately, the rain didn’t stay away from the New Ross site last week, making for difficult conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday in particular.
Nevertheless, the Ploughing exhibits had something for all.
One feature was the high number of stands dedicated to dealing with issues that we have all encountered over the last three years in particular.
There were a good few stands with products to prevent frozen pipes during the winter.
If you had that problem in the 09/10 and 10/11 winters, it is worth researching further.
There is nothing worse than spending all day thawing out pipes, only to have to do it again the next day.
We can never predict what the winter will bring, so it is worth preparing for the worst.
Another theme which was common on stands was methods of draining, sub-soiling and aerating soil. This is particularly relevant after the wet year we have had.
Many farmers have commented about wet areas in fields which they have never seen before.
It is worth taking note of these areas, and perhaps attending to them next spring.
Also this week I have been asked about maize silage as an option to replace silage which was not made, or has been eaten already.
Good quality maize silage is an excellent feed to enhance performance in beef and dairy diets.
This year has not been a great one for growing maize. April sown crops under plastic in general are excellent and will make very good feed.
Unfortunately, there are later sown crops without plastic which have either poor bulk, or where it will be difficult to ripen a cob sufficiently.
Many are considering purchasing maize silage for beef finishing this winter.
The big question being asked is, "How much is it worth?"
The answer depends on many different factors. Is it being sold by the acre or by the tonne? What quality is it likely to be?
What animals do you intend feeding it to?
Have you got appropriate storage and handling facilities? How much do you need to buy? What will you balance it with?
In all cases, it is well worth seeking the correct advice before you do a deal to buy maize. Buying too much or too little can prove to be costly.
Not balancing it properly will result in poor animal performance, and additional costs due to a later sale date for finishing animals.
Protein and minerals are important to get right when feeding maize, in order to get the best out of it.
Seek the right advice to avoid disappointing results.
Beef cattle perform excellently on maize silage if it is balanced correctly. Maize is high in starch, which is the main driver of weight gain in indoor beef feeding.
A debate each year on maize is when should it be harvested? Again this depends on many factors — sowing date, plastic or open, variety, cob ripeness, site-soil type and aspect, presence of disease, was nitrogen applied at planting, stage of breakdown (is it brown/yellow or still all green?), etc, etc.
The most important thing is that maize is harvested at the most suitable stage to optimise quality and performance.
Harvesting immature maize will result in run-off of effluent from the pit, and most of that effluent will be starch which gives it much of its feed value.
If you are harvesting a crop which has not developed a cob, harvest while it is still green.
This will at least result in feeding forage with a good digestibility figure.
This type of maize may also require some absorbent material added in the pit to trap nutrients and prevent excessive effluent release.