They say hindsight is 20:20 vision and it is definitely true when it comes to the silage harvest on the Thrive Demo Farm this year.

There was a window of opportunity to cut silage on 9 May. However, we felt it was just a few days early given the sowing date and rate of fertiliser and so the decision was made to hold off.

Unfortunately, it resulted in over a two-week wait as the weather broke and in that time a lot of quality was lost from the silage crop.

Heavier covers even started to lodge slightly which would also have negatively affected quality.

In previous years the farm has been working with silage DMDs in the mid-70s but the delayed cutting date this year means the average of the samples taken have come back at 69% DMD.

While this is still better than average silage, when you compare it to what has been used in recent years and see the increased level of concentrate that will need to be fed to maintain the same level of performance, the figures are quite staggering.

The weanlings will need to get 2.5kg/day concentrate to achieve a daily liveweight gain of around 0.75kg/day to 0.8kg/day over the winter period.

This target is perhaps higher than a typical first winter for weanlings, however we are targeting a 19-month slaughter date, and so in order to have sufficient weight at the end of the second grazing season, a slightly higher growth rate over the first winter is required.

Meal feeding will still be ceased to stock around a month prior to turnout to ease the transition to grass again in spring.

Extra costs

This is 1kg/day more than last year. Over 110 days of feeding and 140 cattle, this is an additional feed cost of over €5,000.

Looking at that another way, if we divided this additional cost by the average carcase value of the finishing cattle this year, it would take the value of four finished animals to cover it.