Farming talk: Dairy and beef producers encouraged to consider crimping cereals

With rising feed costs set to heavily erode production margins this winter, dairy and beef producers with cereals in the ground should consider crimping crops to maximise nutritional value and dry matter yield.

Lientjie Colahan, technical sales support at Lallemand Animal Nutrition
Lientjie Colahan, technical sales support at Lallemand Animal Nutrition

Making the most of home-grown feed, whether that be grass, maize or cereals, will be crucial to maintain margin over feed costs this winter.

Crimped cereals are often overlooked, but providing they are handled and ensiled correctly, they are a very good feed option that can bolster the energy content of rations and lower the need for purchased concentrates.

It also gives the option of baling the straw left behind, and because the crop is harvested earlier than dry grains, the feed value of the straw is increased.

Offering a rumen-friendly source of starch, crimp is a very safe way to lift the energy content of rations and is a particularly good option in situations where the available silage falls short of energy.

Some farmers may have made high bulk but lower quality silage. Making up the shortfall in rations with purchased energy is going to be very costly this year and therefore if first-cut grass silage is analysing low in ME, crimped cereals should be considered.

Suitable crops for crimping include maize, barley, wheat, oats, triticale and grains should be harvested at a moisture content of between 25 and 40 per cent – typically two to three weeks earlier than conventionally combined cereals. Due to the high moisture, all crimped cereals will need to be treated with an appropriate inoculant to reduce spoilage and nutrient loss.

Spoilage microorganisms such as yeasts and moulds must be controlled when the crimped grain is fermenting, as well as when it is being fed out, to inhibit them from consuming the valuable nutrients preserved within the clamp.

Taking control of the fermentation process and microbes that are present is particularly important with crimp, given that starch is an ideal nutrient for spoilage microbes and that it tends to be removed and fed quite slowly.

I advise using a crop specific inoculant such Magniva Platinum Crimp which has been specifically developed to preserve moist grains and offers a cost-effective alternative to conventional acid treatments.

Magniva Platinum Crimp is a biological option that contains anti-fungal bacteria which produce powerful compounds that inhibit spoilage micro-organisms. Designed specifically for crimp, it contains a high dose of beneficial heterofermentative bacteria to make sure they dominate the wild bacteria than can result in uncontrolled and inefficient fermentation.

This ensures faster preservation, while helping to avoid heating and spoilage at feed out, and when used with the correct storage conditions, can reduce wastage to almost zero.

Prepare the clamp properly with a ground sheet, side sheets and a top sheet that’s properly weighed down after the clamp has been sheeted. Also pay attention to vermin control throughout the season as rats are particularly drawn to the feed.

Lientjie Colahan is technical sales support at Lallemand Animal Nutrition

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