Winter cereal crops are now fast approaching the stage suitable for cutting for wholecrop. Feeding wholecrop cereal silage alongside grass silage can significantly increase the animals dry matter intake and help maximise rumen function. For these reasons wholecrop is becoming an increasingly popular feed on livestock farms.
Cereals crops such as wheat, barley, oats and rye have the potential to create a starch rich forage with a high dry matter yield from a single cut. A crop of wholecrop winter wheat will yield as much dry matter as three cuts of grass silage. Wholecrop cereals also provide a useful source of effective fibre, which is essential for healthy rumen function and
is increasingly important to balance young highly digestible grass silage, negating the need to purchasing straw.
Wholecrop should be harvested when the crop is between 30-40% dry matter with the grain at the soft cheddar stage giving the optimal balance in terms of yield, starch and digestibility. Ideally the crop should be harvested with a direct cut harvester to prevent grain losses, if you plan to bale the crop you should cut slightly earlier and avoid conditioning the crop with the mower to avoid grain shedding. As the grain ripens the starch levels will improve but a harvester with a crop processor will be required to mill the grain so the animal can digest it.
Wholecrop cereals can be more prone to aerobic spoilage and heating during feed out due to the forages relatively high dry matter and restricted fermentation. Therefore,
you should consider using a proven silage inoculant such as Magniva Platinum Wholecrop, specifically designed for cereal wholecrop it will increase aerobic stability, reduce dry matter losses and increase the digestibility of fibre through the inclusion of homo-fermentative and hetero-fermentative bacteria in combination with specific enzymes.
Find out more about ensiling wholecrop by contacting your local Fane Valley Agronomy & Forage specialist or call 028 9261 0485.