Step 1 . Cutting

What is the best stage to cut your silage? Plus, why later and lower silage cutting could mean you lose more than you gain.

As grass approaches heading, yield increases. However, leave it too late and protein, digestibility and metabolisable energy all decline. After heading, the digestibility of grass falls by about 0.5% a day.

Its true, delaying cutting might produce a heavier crop. But because it's nutritional value will be lower, it won’t have the same ability to support milk production. Plus, losses are actually higher than with a lighter crop. So the yield benefit isn’t as great as you might think.

Independent Silage Expert, David Davies explains the key things to think about when cutting grass for silage making.

TOP TIP: Consider type/stage of crop, weather conditions,
contractor availability and farm pressures.

For good quality silage at an acceptable yield, cut just before heading.

Similarly, although it might be tempting to cut low as this increases yield, the stem base is the part of the plant with the lowest digestibility. So again, overall quality will be improved by cutting higher.

On top of that, dead material in the sward base contains higher levels of undesirable micro-organisms that hinder fermentation and increase aerobic spoilage.

And cutting too low increases the risk of introducing soil micro-organisms, such as clostridia, into silage, increasing the risk of a poor fermentation and reducing its feed value, or even potentially contaminating with listeria.

Consider type/stage of crop, weather conditions,
contractor availability and farm pressures.
— Dr David Davies, Independent Silage Consultant

Want to learn more? Take a look at the next step.