Quality or quantity? - that is the question

Having access to trials from all over Europe means that we can give Irish farmers the key benefits and learnings from our research network. For example, a trial was carried out at Newland Home Farm, England by kind permission of David and Chris Halhead. The farm supports a 160 cow herd that is housed and on a robotic milking system yielding 10,000 litres per cow. Grass destined for ensiling has been weighed and analysed over 2 seasons to observe the differences year on year. In both 2014 and 2015 the samples and weights were taken on exactly the same day to give a direct comparison.


The results have presented some very thought provoking statistics and in light of today’s climate of tight margins, silage producers need to ask themselves “do I forfeit quality in pursuit of quantity?” The mixture sampled during 2014 & 15 was VersaMax Meat and Milk. This mixture features 51% More Milk varieties which guarantee the genetic potential.

The aim is now to harvest at the optimum time. The table below illustrates the results of manual weighing and pre – cut sampling. The variation from year to year is staggering. What it says though is be aware of the season – sample and take action. If the sample shows the grass is ready do not wait because once the heading process begins the forage quality falls quickly and the energy is gone.


We drilled VersaMax Flexicrop in autumn 2014. We did this to maintain the advantages of high DNDF cultivars (39% inclusion) and introduce the Advanced™ Hybrid Lofa. This was to introduce extra yield with no quality penalty (See page 6).

Due to grazing early in 2015 the 1st cut was compromised but gave a good second cut to out- perform the meat and milk which was excellent in its own right. More Flexicrop has been drilled autumn 2015.


                                         NEWLAND HOME FARM TRIALS
  Meat & Milk 2014 Meat & Milk 2015  


  1st Cut 2nd Cut 1st Cut 2nd Cut 1st Cut 2nd Cut
Fresh weight tonnes/acre 14.57 8.10 12.95 6.48 13.00 8.90
Dry Matter %
14.8 16.7 18.5 16.4 15.9 17.6
Total kg/DM 2160 1350 2396 1063 2059 1566
Me Mj/kg/DM 10.4 10.5 11.8 11.2 11.4 11.2
NDIF 49.9 53.7 38.2 44.2 41.1 43.3
Total Mj/acre 22464 14175 28273 11906 23473 17539
Total energy produced 2 cuts 36639mj 40179mj 41012mj


Points to consider from the project:

  • Be aware of the weather’s effect on crop development
  • Clearly define your forage requirements.
  • Select an appropriate mixture.
  • Monitor, Measure and Mow.
  • Go for quality - avoid letting the crop seed.