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Low Protein Silages

18 January 2017

When you receive a ration based on silage please check that protein requirements (ERDP in particular) are being met.  This is important for all stock and in particular dry suckler cows.  For suckler cows the overall CP should be above 90g/kg DM.  If low protein silage alone is used you will notice ERDP is short.

 If straw is included it may need a very small amount of rapemeal/other protein.  If silages are below 8% CP then a supplement must be used.

 In some silages below 8% CP even if they are fed without straw there won’t be enough protein to ensure optimum rumen function.  Therefore cows will not get the same energy out of the silage. The ME is only a potential ME of the silage if the rumen is working optimally. It’s a tricky balance as we don’t want to over feed concentrates to dry sucklers either!

 If in any doubt contact your consultant.

Karen Stewart,


Normally we don’t recommend the use of urea with silage based rations.  However with silages at 8% CP or less a liquid urea solution could be used.  The advantage of a liquid is that it is more easily mixed in with the silage either by using a watering can on top of the silage in the trough or in a mixer wagon.  As an example a dry 650 kg cow on a mix of 8% CP silage and straw would require 0.12 l of liquid poured onto her silage each day ie 1 litre would be sufficient for 8 cows.  HOWEVER A COMPETENT NUTRITIONIST MUST BE CONSULTED FIRST.


Basil Lowman, SAC Consulting Beef Specialist,

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