The SowSmart Winter Express blend produced a large amount of high quality silage and an opportunity hay cut last year on the dairy property of Andrew and Naomi Mullins, east of Allora on the central Darling Downs in Queensland. Mr Mullins said they planted the SowSmart Winter Express blend as a higher protein option to reduce the cost of bringing in protein meal. SowSmart Winter Express blend is a mix of Jivet tetraploid annual Italian ryegrass, Turbo Persian clover, Alexandria berseem clover and Cavalier spineless burr medic and was planted at the end of March, 2013. One watering was used to aid an excellent establishment and a first cut of silage was taken from the paddock in June. Three other cuts were taken throughout the season and the crop was also cut for hay in November. Mr Mullins said the area produced 35 tonnes of silage per hectare across the season and a further 2.5 tonnes per hectare of hay. He said with better irrigation management they might even be able to achieve five cuts of silage next season. Particularly pleasing was the feed test from the silage which reached a high of 27 per cent crude protein and a Relative Feed Value of 193.
This was quite noticeable when the silage was used as part of the fully mixed ration to feed the 200 dairy cows on the property. “When we put them onto the ryegrass silage we dropped out 1.5 kilograms per cow per day of protein meal and the milk lifted. The digestibility is what is so good.” Cows in the dairy are being milked all year round and consistent production was being achieved before issues with flooding in recent years. Mr Mullins said since the Winter Express silage had been introduced to the ration over a three month period the milk production had consistently been up at the 30 litres per cow per day mark. The silage is stored on a bun on the ground and utilised in conjunction with energy sources such as maize silage, and wheat and barley grain. Last season conditions were favourable early, although it did turn dry as the year progressed. “We had a good start to the season and it kept raining until the first cut,” Mr Mullins said. The initial silage was taken when the crop was fairly short and then regular irrigations helped the pasture through until the final silage cut. Late rainfall helped the regrowth and the hay was harvested at the beginning of December.
Andrew Mullins, Allora, QLD