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Alkalise whole cereal crops this harvest to complement and bolster multi-cut grass silage yields…

With the last six months of the atrocious wet winter hopefully well and truly behind us, it’s not too early to start thinking about future forage supplies. Those lucky enough to have cereal crops in the ground can be assured of a winter stop gap thanks to alkasystems technology.

If you’ve adopted a multi-cut silage system, then fingers crossed, you’re on course to produce highly nutritious forages with high energy and protein levels and more digestible fibre. However, these forages can be quickly fermenting and present various unwanted challenges. Watch out for one or more clamps analysing low NDF levels and higher acidity which in turn can result in lowering the rumen pH and symptoms similar to sub-acute ruminal acidosis, says Dugdale Nutrition veterinary technical manager, Dr Debby Brown.

“Multi-cut silage systems work very well when there is a second supplementary forage type to feed in conjunction with the young, leafy grass. Think maize silage or cereal wholecrop silages which provide more energy in the form of starch and sugar sources and help to stabilise the clamp.

Debby Brown BVMS GPcertFAP MRCVS

“However, complementary fermented wholecrop or maize silages which analyse around the pH3.7 mark are still acidic and can increase the risk of sub-acute ruminal acidosis which will further exacerbate the herd’s health challenges.”

While traditional wholecrop averages 20% starch content and 10% protein, it can be significantly enhanced by introducing alkasystems technology which was developed after extensive research over three decades ago resulting in its foundation, Home n’ Dry, a one-step application in pelleted format. The pellet when reacting with cereals increases the pH to 8.5 and with its make-up of 146% protein, adds a reliable 4-5% protein to the finished product, depending on the application rate.

Alkasystems technology offers producers with the opportunity to treat wholecrop to produce Alkalage and achieve a threefold benefit.

After fully mature wholecrop is treated with the pellets during clamping and then sheeted, ammonia is released by enzyme action. A further reaction occurs leaving behind alkaline ammonium salts, mainly ammonium bicarbonate which buffer the wholecrop to at least pH8.5 and provide a nitrogen source which subsequently increases the crop’s protein content to an average 14%.

The ammonia also reacts with lignin in the wholecrop plant cell walls and enhances its digestibility. Furthermore, the high starch in the clamped mature wholecrop helps drive the rumen microflora’s performance, which in turn, when fed in a TMR, improves the digestion of the multi-cut silages. It also balances the nitrogen in the grass silage crops and supports herd fertility.

Debby continues: “Since Alkalage is made by harvesting a fully mature cereal crop its dry matter is maximised consequently extra forage per acre is achieved compared to traditional fermented wholecrop. Filling clamps with a high dry matter, digestible forage with protein and starch can only be beneficial after this year’s delayed season and the shortage of forages already seen this spring.

“Alkalage can also be successfully fed alongside maize silage, reducing the possible challenges from a high starch diet, providing some of the extra protein and a more rumen digestible starch required to drive the rumen microflora and ensure the best use of the maize silage is achieved. Using a balance of the two crops has the potential to allow the daily amount fed to be reduced and spread out the forages across the year, as well as provide a more stable diet for your livestock.

“Maize silage and Alkalage are usually stable crops and of a reasonably consistent nutrient value which helps diet balance with changing grass-based forages throughout the year. The Alkalage pH helps balance the acidic pH of grass silages and some maize silages, ensuring the fibre digesting bacteria in the rumen have the environment required to optimise their performance,” she says adding: “The balance of Alkalage and grass-silage, or Alkalage, maize and grass-silage in a ration will go a long way to increasing production from forage, and consequently reduce the need for other, costly purchased inputs on farm.”

To find out more about Alkalage and alkasystems technology, please contact one of our technical specialists listed below, or call the Alka-line on +44(0)1200 613118.

Rob Cockroft
Great Britain Sales & Technical
t. 07748 651906

Rob Smith
Great Britain Sales & Technical
t. 07930 943073

Paul Sayle
International Sales & Technical
t. 07779 698075