December 2021 Monthly Management

Available Nutrient Content & Guide Value (€) of Organic Fertilisers; Soil Fertility & Testing; Feeding Concentrates Before Calving; Mineral Supplementation; Silage Analysis Feedback

20 December 2021

Available Nutrient Content & Guide Value (€) of Organic Fertilisers

In the current climate, significant cost savings can be made by using organic fertilisers to replace or complement chemical fertiliser. Savings are highest when organic fertilisers are applied in accordance with soil requirements needs, and in a manner that maximises the plant availability of nutrients, particularly nitrogen i.e., low emission spreading, timing and weather conditions. The table below shows indicative monetary values of some common organic fertilisers based on current estimates of chemical fertiliser prices. The values shown are estimates of the value of 1 tonne or 1,000 gallons of each organic fertiliser type, assuming that the availabilities of N are achieved, and that there is a requirement for all the nutrients being supplied. Potential savings need to be adjusted for transport, storage and spreading costs.

Organic Fertiliser Type N Units/1,000
gal 7
P Units/1,000
gal 6,7
K Units/1,000
gal 7

€/1,000gal 4,5
Liquid Manures
Cattle (6% DM) (Actual) 2 9 (applied with LESS) 5 32 39
Pig (4% DM) 3 19 7 20 48
Soiled Water 4 0.7 5 9.5
Solid Manures
N (units/t) P (units/t) K (units/t) Value €/ton
Dungstead Manure 3 2 8
Farmyard Manure 3 2 12 15.0

2 The actual value of N in Cattle slurry is approx. 9 units/1,000 gallon (Based on total N of 2.4kgN/m3 @ 40% N availability by LESS application). Spring application of organic manures is required to maximize N recovery. Manures should be tested to determine manure nutrient content
3 Incorporation of high N manures within 2 to 6hrs after application assume 50% N availability
4 Value of N = €2.18/kg. P = €3.69/kg, K = €1.33/kg for November.2021.
5 Cost of spreading & transport not included.
6 Reduce P availability to 50% on P index 1 & 2 soils.
7 Values under units/1,000gals or per ton have been rounded to closest unit.

Soil Fertility & Testing

soil fertility and testing

The merits of maintaining good soil fertility are key ingredients for the efficient use of nitrogen (N) to delivering productive pasture. This starts with correct soil pH, phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) levels.

Reliable soil analysis will give invaluable information when making decisions on P and K requirements and tailoring rates. This is even more important when planning your fertiliser requirements when prices are high. To achieve optimum grass yields, soil nutrients need to be at correct levels to meet requirements. In simple terms, soil fertility is much like a barrel of water – each nutrient in the soil forms part of the structure but the limiting nutrient in the soil will determine the yield of the crop. When carrying out a soil test, some precautions must be considered:

  • Allow 3 months after chemical P, K and slurry applications to take a sample.
  • Do not test at least 2 years after a lime application to get an accurate pH reading.
  • Take a minimum of 15-20 points working in a ‘W’ across the field, 10cm deep will give a good sample.

Following a review of your soil analysis results, a specific fertilizer plan for your farm can be drawn up.

Contact Darren or Ciara for further information on soil testing and sampling procedures.

Feeding Concentrates Before Calving

Feeding a dry cow compound nut with pre-calver minerals included in the lead up to calving helps condition the rumen for higher levels of concentrates after calving while also providing a smooth transition into the lactation phase. It also assists in getting sufficient amounts of pre-calver mineral into the cow in the vital days before calving. In this transitional period before calving, a cow’s feed intake is reduced, and she may not get her full allocation of minerals from top dressing on silage. This situation is corrected by feeding a complete dry cow nut, ensuring she has a better feed intake with the concentrate and providing each cow with her full nutrient requirement.

Through selection of top specification raw materials and addition of appropriate supplements the Drinagh 18% Dry Cow Nut works to support the cow through this critical stage in production.

The protein content of the nut is over 18%, derived from a high inclusion of soya, providing a high level of digestible un-degradable protein, proven to support production of quality colostrum for the benefit of your future herd. The higher level of protein in this feed also helps milk composition and cow health in early lactation.

A high inclusion of maize acts as the major energy source in the diet. The starch content of the maize will act as a gut conditioner improving the cow’s ability to consume concentrate in early lactation as well as providing energy for calving and helping to maintain cow condition.

The Drinagh 18% Dry Cow Nut aims to provide the best nutritional platform in the dry period in a complete and convenient fashion - fully balanced at a 1.5kg/day feeding rate. It is also safe to feed in conjunction with other feeds if cows are under condition and need additional feeding.

Available in bulk and mini bulk. Contact the Drinagh Score Feeds Mill for more information.

Mineral Supplementation

Correct mineral and vitamin supplementation in a dry cow feeding programme is an essential factor in the health and performance of both the cow and newborn calf. Quite often, mineral imbalances or deficiencies in the dry cow period can result in metabolic disorders such as:

  • Milk fever & retained cleanings
  • Weak calves & higher mortality rates
  • Reduced heath performance – increased incidences of lameness, mastitis, etc....
  • Reduced milk production and fertility in the following lactation.

To avoid these undesired outcomes, it is recommended to feed a high-quality mineral at the recommended rate for 6 to 8 weeks prior to calving.

Each farm may have different limitations associated with feeding supplementary minerals, but correct management practices can overcome many problems. Examples of such cases are:

Varying mineral content of forages:

Establishing the mineral status of silage through testing is the first step in ensuring that cows are being correctly supplemented. Silage mineral status can vary from year to year and many factors can account for this i.e. stage of growth of crop, slurry applications too close to cutting and varying soil fertility levels.

Insufficient head space for all cows:

If head space at the feed barrier is restricted, powdered minerals should be top dressed on silage twice per day - half in the morning and half in the evening.

Silage Analysis Feedback

Over seventy silage samples were submitted for analysis as part of the recent Winter Feeding & Milk Quality Open Days. Despite the difficult cutting conditions at times last summer, silage quality proved to be a little better than expected with the following quality data averages seen across first and second cut samples:

Average Values of Samples Tested
DMD Dry Matter ME (Energy) Crude Protein NDF (Fibre)
1st Cut 69 25.02% 10.61 MJ/kg 13.26% 51.06%
2nd Cut 67 28.30% 10.22 MJ/kg 13.8% 50.79%

Silage analysis is available at any time from the Drinagh Central office or Mill department. Contact Darren Lynch or Ciara Sheehan to arrange a test.