Producers opt for silage after wet weekend

Coolah's Minnamurra Pastoral busy stacking silage

Cropping
Dennis Power at Mount Mill, Coolah, and one of the silage pits.

Dennis Power at Mount Mill, Coolah, and one of the silage pits.

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A wet forecast on the weekend meant the cut crop would have gone to waste.

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The forecast of heavy rain on the weekend threatened to ruin a cut crop of oaten hay at Mount Mill near Coolah, but instead it will become a valuable asset during the next drought.

Dennis Power and his team were busy stacking six foot bales of silage on Friday, initially intended for hay, that would have gone to waste in the paddock when just over 100 millimetres of rain eventually fell on the weekend.

After copping a shower earlier in the week, the crop wouldn't have dried naturally before the next fall of rain.

Instead they now have 400 tonnes of silage in a pit and another 200 tonne above ground.

"These were going to be hay but then the storms during the week had wet it and with this wet change coming, we wouldn't have got it all for hay," he said.

"So we thought well blow it, we will have another 200 tonne here which would have, if we got 30 or 40 millimetre of rain, it would have been completely wasted.

"For the cost to get plastic...I think it costs you about $2 to $3 a bale, really it's basically like another hay shed."

The six foot bales were about 45 per cent moisture and weighed from 900 to 1000 kilograms.

With some plastic on hand, Mr Power said it made sense to use it as silage and potentially utilise for their 1000 head feedlot.

"I've been through three or four pretty big droughts and this last one was the worst," he said.

"We just want to drought proof ourselves."

Historical feed storages helped many producers survive recent dry years and it wasn't uncommon to hear of pits from decades before being broken open.

Australian Fodder Industry Association life member and Victorian pasture and conservation specialist Frank Mickan previously told The Land silage pits could last 20 to 40 years if air, water and soil was kept out.

The silage was a 'second bite of the cherry' for Minnamurra who had already fed the crop right down for their cattle and then cut between five to six tonne per hectare of silage.

"It is wonderful when you get a good crop," Mr Power said.

"There was only about 600 acres of oats in for forage for the cattle and we haven't silaged it all, about half."

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