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Love the smell of silage in the morning!

Livestock producers have an opportunity to make silage while the sun shines this Spring.

Central Tablelands and Central West Local Land Services are working together to deliver a series of Fodder Information Sessions on the 12th & 13th August at Cowra (12th), Narromine (morning of 13th) and Mudgee (afternoon of 13th).

Peter Johnstone, "Ilinois", Woodstock, is one of many producers throughout the area using silage to drought proof his livestock operation. Depending on the operation, Silage can be made and stored for under $50/tonne, which provides a very cost effective alternative to hay.

Mr Johnstone started making silage in 1984 and has a number of 200 tonne silage pits stacked tight with large square bales of lucerne silage and lucerne/ tretraploid ryegrass silage. "Since we started putting silage into pits, we have not had to send sheep or cattle away on agistment, nor have we been forced to sell our breeders in a drought" Mr Johnstone commented.

In order to achieve a quality product, the time between cutting and ensiling should be less than 48hours, which means the process can be quite labour intensive. However, Mr Johnstone and his sons Ben and Tom also contract bale in the local area with a group of willing farmers.

"A number of us work together to get silage into the ground and drought proof our operations. Neighbours use their own trucks and loaders to get the bales from the paddock to the pit as quick as we can make them.  There are still a couple of things we'd like to fine tune with our feed out system and that's why I'll be attending the morning session at Cowra Agricultural Research Station" Mr Johnstone said.

Cooperation obviously makes it all run smoothly. Because there is a difference in altitude and therefore climate among the producers that work together with Mr Johnstone, they are able to cut their pasture at the right time, starting at the bottom and working their way up.

Based on figures from the NSW DPI feed quality service in Wagga, Pasture Hay ME in 2013 had a massive range from the poorest quality at 4.4 ME to the best quality at 12.6 ME. Cereal hay had less variability, with 7.2 ME and 10.5 ME respectively.

Whether it is hay or silage making that needs some fine tuning in your operation, these Fodder Information Sessions are designed to address this season's quality surplus feed's potential to provide an insurance against high fodder prices in a drought.

Media contact: Kylie Krause 0439 608370 | kylie.krause@lls.nsw.gov.au