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Grain crops perform well despite weather

Sunday, 23rd August, 2015 4:55pm
Grain crops perform well despite weather

Pictured at the on-farm grain seminar hosted by Barrett Agri at Aherla were – from left – Brian Reidy, Premier Farm Nutrition; Stephen Gumbleton, Southern Fuel and Farm Supplies; Peter Hynes, host farmer, and Brendan Keatley, Samco.

BARRETT Agri recently hosted a number of on-farm harvest grain seminars.

At the premises of Peter Hynes and Jeffrey Good from Aherla, the audience were advised that much improved stock performance and large savings in concentrate costs can be achieved when native Irish grain is used as part of winter feed programmes.

In spite of this summer’s poor weather, grain crops have performed well to date. The initial reports from the winter barley harvest are positive and most crops have yielded close to or above four tonnes per acre with grain bushel weights of between 60 kph to 72 kph. Spring barley crops also look well and offer good potential.

Beef production consultant Gerry Giggins informed the audience that there is no better animal concentrate available than Irish grain. It is the most versatile high energy feed that farmers can grow or buy and is suitable for all classes of stock. Farmers who store their own grain or purchase grain from their neighbouring cereal farmers can make savings of over €80 per tonne in winter concentrate costs.

He further commented that producers who are presently buying expensive weanlings and store cattle will really need to control costs this winter if profits are to be realised. It is important that weight gain is achieved efficiently for acceptable returns to be made at slaughter.

Dairy consultant Brian Reidy outlined the methods available to store grain on farm. He said that, up to recently, grain was dried or stored on air at moistures of 18% or lower.

For livestock farmers who don’t have a grain dryer and who want to buy green grain for feed, there are now two favourable storage options – crimping and treating the grain with proprionic acid or, alternatively, treating with feed grade urea plus an enzyme.

Mr Reidy outlined both methods: Proprionic acid treatment involves crimping the grain at a moisture level of 16% to 25 % and then adding the Proprionic acid after the crimping process. The amount of acid used depends on the moisture content of the grain with higher moisture contents requiring higher additive use.

The acid-treated grain can then be stored for up to six months indoors without being covered. Feed rates can be at a level of up to 4 kgs for dairy stock and up to 6 kgs for beef animals depending on silage pH.

The other option is urea treatment of grain. Similar to the acid treatment, the grain is crimped and feed grade urea plus an enzyme is then added to the grain by means of an applicator on the crimping machine.

The treated grain can then be heaped and then sealed under polythene in a dry shed for two weeks after treatment. Thereafter, the polythene can be removed and the grain is ready to feed.

This system has the advantage of increasing grain protein by up to 15% or more.The process furthermore produces an alkaline pH which provides a buffer to improve rumen function. Feed levels of this grain can be up to 7kg for dairy stock and ad-lib for beef animals.

Brendan Keatley of Samco informed farmers of the firm’s recent development – the SAMCO Bag Press. This machine creates a sausage-like feed store. He suggested that farmers could ensile or store products such as crimped grain, maize silage or brewer’s grains.

It provides an option for feed storage without having to build expensive concrete units. The size of the plastic feed bag varies from a diameter of 1.5m to 2m or 2.5m, depending on what volume is required to store and the storage space available. The Samco Bagpress has also now evolved into the Samco Bagpress and Crimper and this system allows storage of grain at a reasonable cost.

Mr Keatley outlined that the bag press can work anywhere, but a farmer must be conscious of the time of the year when he will be feeding out, so ideally it needs to be made on concrete or hardcore. The real benefit of this type of storage is the small feed face open to the air which reduces waste when feeding out these types of high dry matter feeds. It also offers a solution to those who might not have a pit for making a small amount of an alternative forage.

Brendan said: ‘With the large 2.5m diameter bag, you can fit 3.25t per meter length and 2.5t per meter with the slightly smaller 2m diameter. The long bags can be made to suit any length.

For storing crimped grains of upwards of 50t, the charge is €10/t for crimping and €10/t for bagging. The crimping machine can process 40t per hour, while the bagging machine can process about 15t per hour.

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