Decent silage despite dire weather

Rodney Magowan

reports from the Foyle River Valley

FIELDS flooded, crops swept away, bridges down and roads ruined” – the headlines from the north west last summer, yet good silage was still made on the Killen family farm near Newbuildings, County Londonderry.

With a pleasing analysis of 30 DM, ME 11.5, Protein 13.5 and pH4, silage made in 2017 proved equally impressive when it came to livestock performance.

“Despite being ensilaged during the worst summer weather in a generation, far worse than in other arts and parts of Ulster, last year’s silage is feeding well,” affirmed Stuart Killen.

“Intake and yield from our dairy cows have improved and in the beef unit DLWG has again been heartening.”

Stuart and his brothers Geoffrey, Richard and Graeme farm with their father Ronnie as R Killen and Sons in the fertile Foyle Valley, a few miles up stream from Derry City. Aside from their growing dairy, beef and sheep enterprises, the family has one of the most sophisticated and progressive farm contracting businesses in the Province.

But why had the silage proved far better than feared in a season that saw whole fields flooded as rivers burst their banks?

According to Stuart having good equipment and a truly professional harvesting team ready to seize the moment during lulls in the weather was of course a factor.

“But equally important we always use Ecosyl, the proven silage additive from Volac to stabilise the crop in the clamp. As contractors we had noticed how customers using Ecosyl consistently made better silage than those still using other products. With the encouragement of Basil Bailey from Thompsons we have used Ecosyl for several years with great results. However in 2017 it really was a key player in keeping livestock performance up.”

Now farming upwards of a 1,000 acres, the Killen family settled in the area 50 years ago and are know over a wide area for their contracting business. Using the blue tractor power of their New Holland fleet, plus Claas self propelled harvesters, Ronnie and sons offer a range of services including tanker and umbilical slurry spreading, ploughing, sowing and all three forms of silage making: clamp, big bale and maize.

Technology has come a long way since Ronnie starting working in the country 30 years ago with a Mengele 25 trailed harvester!

As the business expanded so did the range of skills and equipment provided by R Killen and Sons, who have also steadily expanded their own farm operations. All family members are involved in contracting along with the dairy, beef and sheep operations at home.

“When it comes to farming at home or working to the country, having reliable equipment is vital and the same applies to selecting an additive,” added Stuart Killen.

“We were already impressed with the job done by Ecosyl, but 2017 was a total nightmare as regards endless rain and flooding. That Ecosyl still did the the job and delivered silage that kept up livestock performance is remarkable.

“Proof that when it comes to buying livestock genetics, machinery or an additive it pays to go for the product proven to work in all local conditions. For us Ecosyl is the additive to give palatable silage with minimal waste and as contractors we know attention to detail in mixing and applying Ecosyl yields huge dividends all winter.”

Numerous independent trials have shown that, on average, Ecosyl treatment results in 1.2 litres extra per dairy cow per day or a 15.2 per cent improvement in beef daily live weight gain.

q For details of Volac silage additives browse or contact Thompsons on (028) 9035 1321, Ecosyl NI distributors.


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