This forage is from one of Daniel Olson’s farms. It was chopped on June 24th and planted on April 17th. It is a forage that was not supposed to be. What was supposed to be, was a crop of fall triticale. Now I am so old that I cannot remember why, but for some reason the triticale could not get planted last fall (2019)! So, the ground was open, and a new course was chosen that could be drilled in early this spring (2020).
Well, it worked out extremely well. If you are one of those that first looks at the crude protein on a sample, even the protein is rather good. No, it is not 23%, but it also is not as highly soluble as alfalfa would be and according to the Cherneys at Cornell, it does not have to be! Grass haylage protein is more efficient than alfalfa haylage protein (you do not need as much).
If you first looked at the digestibility (NDFD30) and the indigestibility (uNDFom240), congratulations! You are on the right track! In this case, the NDFD30 is an amazing 76.69% and the uNDFom240 is an unbelievably low 3.25.%. There just is not a whole lot left to make manure out of and a whole lot there to make milk! Also, the sugar levels (WSC or water-soluble carbohydrates) are an amazing 13.55%. Think of WSC as concentrated starch. Your starch needs in the diet will go down several percentage units.
We do not mean to imply that the other metrics on a feed sample report are not important. It is just that in almost every case (and right now I can’t think of an exception) when feeding high-producing dairy cows, energy is at the peak of needs for a healthy cow.
So, why are the energy factors the most important ones to look at first? Simply, energy takes up the most room in any diet for production livestock, dairy or beef. Having a larger pool of digestible NDF (and sugar!) means not so much energy has to be derived from starch or byproducts. Conversely, it is almost impossible to make up for low energy forage and keep her healthy.
This is a new Forage Innovation cocktail mix. Remember that the ingredients in a successful cocktail mix need to fit not only the geographical location, but also the season when planted. Obviously in Northeast Wisconsin, April is not a good time to plant a sorghum.
This cocktail is mostly Italian Ryegrass (IRG) plus some annual clovers and vetches. It yielded 1.5 tons of dry matter per acre on the first cutting. Not bad for two months from its original seeding date! Just as I write this, a second cutting is being taken and the field will be cut approximately 28 days from now until November depending on the weather which will make a total of 4 or 5 cuttings. The second cutting was just taken near the end of July, with another 1.5 tons of DM. Each cutting was a little late due to weather problems, so a fifth cutting is becoming more of a long shot. The nice thing though is that the IRG will remain vegetative throughout the seeding year.
The results for the 2nd cutting are now in. The NDFD 30 is still 76.25%. The uNDFom240 slipped up to 6.80% due to the 5-day postponement of cutting. Still excellent! The WSC is 11.12% And that other thing, crude protein went up to 18.96 as the clovers became more prominent.
Cocktail mixes are designed not by throwing everything left over in the seed warehouse and calling it good. We consider not only the location and the season, but also the compatibility of both above-ground and below-ground growth habits of each ingredient.
Forage Innovations has been looking at forage plants for over 15 years to help you harvest better forages for your livestock, your farm, and your bank account!
So where would you get forages like this? Schedule a (virtual) appointment to discus your farms needs and experiences and let us assist you in maximizing your forage opportunities. We can be reached from our website, forageinnovations.guru or at by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.