First-cut silage has been harvested on the vast majority of beef farms around the country.

With pits filled and bales in the yard, it is a good time to see how much fodder is currently on farm.

Completing a fodder budget will flag up whether first cut is likely to meet the tonnage of silage required by cattle in a normal winter.

If there is a fodder deficit, close up enough ground for second-cut silage so that winter feed requirements are met.


A fodder budget can be completed online here.

Alternatively, measure the length, width and average height of the clamp in metres, then multiply to get cubic capacity.

To convert to tonnes of grass (freshweight), multiply by 0.65 for silage between 25% and 30% dry matter.

Count up how many bales are on farm and multiply by 0.85 to get the tonnage. Add this to the tonnage of pit silage.

Cattle demand

To calculate how much silage cattle eat over a typical winter, dry spring-calving cows will eat 1t to 1.2t of silage every month. Lactating cows will eat 1.5t to 1.6t per month.

Weanlings and light stores will eat 0.6t to 0.75t, rising to 0.9t for finishing cattle. Add in an extra month for safety against early housing or a late spring turnout.


Add up how much silage cattle are expected to eat. If that figures is less than the silage quantity on farm, then there should be adequate fodder.

If demand exceeds silage stocks, make sure there is enough ground closed off for second cut.

Keep in mind that second cut harvested in late summer will probably yield 3t to 4t/acre less than a June first cut.

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