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On agenda - forage making

18.06.2019

Agricultural companies face difficulties that decrease quality of conserved forage. They include unfavourable weather conditions — drought, regular rains, difficulties with observance of a forage conservation technology, gaining of maximum nutritive value, and preservation of forage for the forthcoming season.

To improve quality of forage and to increase its nutritive value Krasnokamsk Machinery and Repair Plant and the Center for Assistance in Development of Dairy and Beef Stock Farming launched the hot line (8 800 500 7917).  

Шумилова Анна Сергеевна, аудитор по заготовке кормов «Центра развития молочного и мясного животноводства» We talked with Anna Shumilova, auditor of the Center and expert of the course in conservation of efficient bulky feed.

How long is a season of forage conservation in Russia?

Our country is extremely large, and it includes 6 evident climatic zones with different temperatures (in winter: from -2 to -45, in summer: from +14 to +35) and precipitations (178 to 1840 mm/year). All these factors influence approaches and terms of forage gathering.

Therefore, in one part of Russia, farmers start to work in early May, make 1 mowing and by the mid-June works are completed. In another Russian region only by the end of June farmers start gathering and work till late October.

In regions of the moderate climate that take most part of the country, at least 2 hay harvests can be made, and even more in some areas, and in this way to extent the season, but farmers confine themselves to one. In each region, despite of shortage of cultivated land, there is an opinion that it is dictated by weather conditions only. Indeed, it’s just required to select cultures correctly and to arrange then into a forage resource conveyor. According to researches of my colleagues from different research institutes it is evident that though second hay harvests are less yielding but more nutritive.

What are basic cultures for forage conservation in Russia?

22 cultures are most popular. Medick and Eastern galega are rich with protein and contain all essential amino acids that are not produced in animal’s digestive tract and can be obtained only from forage.

Vetch and oat mix contains both grass and legume components. They give both protein and energy. It is used as a phitosanitary culture and good in weed control.

Ryegrass is widely spread. It is rich with sugars. Choice of a culture depends on a task to be solved by a livestock expert and resources by which an agriculturist is limited.

There are many cultures. You can review the most interesting ones in my Efficient bulky feeds video course.


Заготовка кормов в России

What basic problems do agricultural producers face in course of forage conservation and how do they effect forage quality?

Only 25% of conserved forage is worth to get to animals’ manger. The most widespread and destructive error is delay in hay harvest. A as result, nutritive value of conserved forage is by 9 times poorer than its natural potential.

Basically, delays are connected with unavailability and unreadiness of harvesting machinery to the season. Each day of delay gives a plant to form 0.50% of fiber. In this case average losses of energy per day will be 1%, and protein – 1.25%, control of fiber will grow and exceed 30%, and forage digestibility will rapidly decrease.

Increase in yield of a milking herd due to improvement of forage quality – theory and practice. Is this approach introduced at modern farms?

Forage is a sensitive point. Its share in net cost of finished products is 60%, and even more. Farmers try to compensate poor forage by concentrates. Yield of many farms is at the rate of 4.5 tons per year, and they would like to reach 6-7 tons. Concentrates really help them to achieve the set target. Those that attained the rate of 7,000 kg and look forward are in more challenging situation. In this case they cannot do without high-class forage. Concentrated forage has a special feature. Even if its share reaches 75% of diet, the yield does not exceed 7,500 kg of milk per year. Increase in yield of a milking herd by increase in nutritive value of forage is usually applied in two diametrically opposite categories farms. These are large commercial holding companies that can watch their money and where each ruble of diet value result in billions of rubles per year, and, surprisingly, small farms verging towards bankruptcy. A reason is that a forage unit in basic feeds is significantly cheaper than in concentrates, and the higher is a share of basic feeds in the diet, the lower are risks to ruin health of animals. Basic feeds with nutritive value of 11 MJ of exchange energy give 6,000 kg a year without concentrates. Today there are methods to produce roughage with nutritive value of 13 MJ of exchange energy and 23% of protein.

What technologies will help to achieve high results?

The highest nutritive value of forage is gained by using the Packed forage technology. Even under rainy weather conditions it is possible to conserve and preserve high-quality grass forage without concentrates. As experience has shown, the technology increases productivity of animals by 20-25%. In addition, cost of diet is reducing, and milk quality is improving. In fact, introduction of the technology can bring 100% to 1000% per annum depending on a company size. For a farm breeding 1,000 heads economic effect will reach RUB 20 ml a year.

Which equipment is required? Why should I invest in advanced equipment?

Light towed machinery is used for the Packed haylage technology. It is manufactured by Krasnokamsk Machinery and Repair Plant. Moreover, most of machines have been already bought and applied by farms in traditional methods of forage conservation. For 10 working days, three balers and one bale wrappers are able to conserve 50% of forage of a herd of 1000 heads. The equipment will be recouped for a season subject to such livestock population.

Техника для заготовки кормов

Production of forage on your own farm – how is it profitable?

In some countries forage production is highly specialized business. However, in Russia individual forage production is an issue of security. At any moment purchase prices can change significantly. Quality of forage can vary significantly from a lot to a lot. Livestock farms cannot afford themselves to become independent on third parties, therefore they prefer to conserve average by quality forage, but to have an illusion of stability. Did you ask me about profitability? Here is the answer: only 2% of managers are aware of figures without involvement of an economic department. To measure means to manage. Those who actually effect operative management basing on actual figures, including works connected with forage conservation, have profitability of 30% per annum. The do not borrow money and pay to their personnel salary that is significantly higher than average figures.

Is Russian able to become a forage exporter?

Grass is one of renewable resources. With respect to this resource Russia is more lucky than other countries. We have huge area and territories enabling us to grow without artificial irrigation. Last year there was serious drought in Europe, and farmers looked for suppliers of packed hay and haylage. Russian agricultural producers were ready to supply and quality of the products was acceptable but sanctions obstructed. Authorities of some regions are searching for new export products. I think that vitamin grass meal could be version No. 1, and for border areas – packed haylage.

Author: Yulia Tokhtueva

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