How to deal with acidosis when feeding multi-cut grass silage


Dairy farmers who opt for high-quality grass silage made in multi-cut systems should persevere if they are faced with acidosis from young, moist, low-fiber silage.

Some dairy farms report subacute acidosis caused by narrow-leafed, ball-stemmed grasses in the rumen. This leads to less structure in the rumen, and lower rates of leakage and production of saliva.

However, independent advisor Hefin Richards of Rumenation Nutrition Consultancy says producing quality, local food is the “only game in town,” and producers should solve startup problems with younger, higher D-value silage.

See also: How multi-cut can generate £ 333 / ha profit on three-cut silage systems

“Multi-cut grass is more like grazing than traditional mature silage,” says Richards. “Therefore, balancing the diet presents different challenges, but in most cases the benefits far outweigh the costs. There are no great deals in the feed market, and years like this focus the mind.

“The process begins with the soil, with grass varieties, agronomy, harvesting decisions, crop handling and processing, preservation, storage and feeding all of which contribute to maximizing quality and quality. nutrient retention and the financial value of the forage to the farm business.

He points out that with inflation in feed costs, high-quality silage was more valuable than ever.

Risk factors

Jerry Trowbridge of Lakeland Scottish Feeds and Services has seen cases of acidosis where he works in the north of England and the south-west of Scotland.

Perennial grasses and fescues have been implicated, while Westerwolds, Italian ryegrasses and tetraploids tend to stay in a more open structure in the rumen, he explains.

Mr Trowbridge says some farms have seen acidotic cows after feeding low dry matter (DM) silage. Earlier cut dates make the grass younger and often wetter, producing a DM of less than 23%.

“The low fiber content means the scratching reflex is weak and cuddling rates are low – the cow produces less saliva to dampen acidity and succumbs to acidosis,” he says.

“She eats less, milk yields fluctuate and generally fall. And once a cow has subacute ruminal acidosis, it can take three to four weeks for a full recovery.

Adding structural straw at 0.5 to 1 kg per cow per day or rapeseed straw at 0.3 kg per cow per day, or replacing a little silage with 2 kg of beet pulp could solve the problem. , he said.

Mr Trowbridge adds that chemical buffers such as sodium bicarbonate or products made from live or dead yeast should be discussed with nutritionists.

What to look for

  • Cuddling rate – 65-75 chews per cattle (rate 12 cows for an average)
  • Ruminant balls falling to the ground could indicate subacute rumen acidosis (Sara)
  • Tail flapping – a quivering tail is a sign of acidic urine
  • Bubbles in the mud – a telltale sign farmers look for in more severe cases of acidosis
  • Another symptom is undigested silage in mud
  • Hot feet – cows move from one foot to the other, lifting the feet

Tips for Successful Multi-Cut Silage Feeding

  • Optimal quality: Aim for 11.6-12.2 metabolizable energy, crude protein of 16% or more, and neutral detergent fiber at around 37-39%
  • Increase forage consumption: Push forage up more frequently and aim for a feed access width of 1 m per cow to increase DM inputs and allow concentrate reduction. Aim for cows to eat 2 to 3 kg more DM of forage
  • Increase fiber if necessary: It is easy to add chopped straw to high quality silage, but not to remove fibers from mature stem silage. Add 25-30mm chopped straw to avoid sorting or nutritionally enhanced straw pellets (NIS)
  • Consider a rumen buffer: Live yeasts scavenge oxygen, which puts lactic acid-producing bacteria at a disadvantage and raises rumen pH, balancing the rumen at a much lower cost than concentrates
  • Mix cuts for balance: Every summer there is usually a delayed cut that is more fibrous. A customer this year is mixing a first cut, a second cut and a fifth cut. Having pliers to allow access is the key to this. Try to feed the second and fifth cuttings all winter alongside the first, third, and fourth cuttings.

Source: Hefin Richards, Rumenation Nutrition Consultancy



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