May 2018 Monthly Management

Silage and Grassland Management, Drinagh Silage Wrap

15 May 2018

Silage and Grassland Management

The grassland management strategy for the next few months is to try to grow and utilize as much grass as possible whether it goes in to the cow, in to a bale or in to the pit. As May/June are peak grass growth months now is the time to focus in.



In a two cut silage system, delaying cutting date to allow first cut to “bulk up” will reduce quality and will reduce 2nd cut yield. Therefore delaying first cut to increase bulk should only be considered if the crop won’t be cut for a second cut. Delaying cutting date will also have a reduce quality.

  1. Walk silage ground to establish how crop is progressing. Silage growth has increased significantly in recent weeks, assess your crop. The crop may be better than you think.
  2. Target first cut silage to be completed by June 10th
    Don’t delay cutting 1st cut, the aim this year is to have two silage harvests by August 1st. Further surpluses can be taken after that.
  3. Aim to wilt silage for a 12-24 hour period if possible, this will allow for the crop to dry out, increase sugars and decrease nitrates.
  4. Test grass sugar content in advance of silage cutting.
    Sugar is the most important measure of ensilabilty – this test is available in the Drinagh Central or Teagasc office in Skibbereen.


  1. Close as much ground for silage as possible. Stock the grazing areas of the farm to its potential for May and June.
  2. Consider what stock you are carrying? This is not the year to be carrying surplus stock / extra stock. Extra stock will require additional silage next winter and will reduce the farms ability to build additional silage stocks over the coming months. If you are carrying extra stock plan now for when these stock will leave the farm.
  3. Continue to spread fertilizer on your grazing ground after each grazing. Spread 30-35 units of N after each grazing, not forgetting phosphorus, potassium and sulphur with your nitrogen
  4. Take out surplus bales of silage if grass is getting ahead of you. Baled paddocks should receive 1000 gallons of slurry for every 4 bales to replace Ps and Ks taken off by the crop. Baled paddocks should be topped with 30 plus units of nitrogen for the next grazing.
  5. Target to bale paddocks instead of topping.
  6. Walk the farm once a week at least. If growth is good and you are making adjustments go twice a week.
  7. Graze out paddocks well to maintain grass quality and reduce grass wastage.
  8. Graze paddocks at the right stage cows being forced to clean out strong paddocks will result in slowing the length of the rotation and slower regrowth’s.

Fertilizer For Second Cut Silage

Second cut silage will require approximately 100Kg N/ha (80 units/acre) with high perennial ryegrass content swards (recently reseeded ground) requiring higher levels of nitrogen compared to older swards.

Make allowances for N, P and K values of slurry used. If the first cut did not receive slurry then an extra slurry application should be targeted later in the year – stick to normal levels (2000 gallons/ acre) of slurry application when saving your second cut. Excess potash from slurry that is carried in with the crop will lead to a range of problems at the feed-out stage next winter. These include milk fever, hypomagnesaemia and other metabolic disorders through depressed magnesium absorption in the rumen.

Apply fertiliser promptly after the first cut and evenly as possible. Be mindful of over-fertilising silage ground as excess nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) will have a negative effect on both crop preservation and animal performance. Too much nitrogen in grass at cutting reduces grass sugar levels & increases buffering capacity. To reduce this risk, allow enough time for any N applied to be taken up by the crop before deciding cutting date. Approximately 2 units of N per day are used up by the crop in good growing conditions.

Soil Index 1 2 3 4
P required kg/ha 30 20 10 0
K required kg/ha 70 50 35
N required kg/ha 100

Reduce N:P:K by 25:4:25 kg per ha on older swards with low growth potential

Drinagh Silage Wrap


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