Farmers considering harvesting cereals for wholecrop this week are advised to pause and consider their winter feeding stocks before filling another clamp with forage, says Andy Strzelecki, technical director from feed and forage preservations specialists, Kelvin Cave.
Instead, he says they may be better off delaying harvest for a matter of one or two weeks, booking a contractor to combine, and harvesting the high moisture grain
for crimping in late July or early August.
“Many farmers are experiencing their best growing season for many years and already have plentiful supplies of high quality forage in stock,” he says. “However, they will generally expect to buy in concentrates over the winter, and yet they may be overlooking the potential of highly digestible, high energy concentrate feed they have growing on their own farm.
“Although they may have sown wheat, barley, oats or triticale with a view to harvesting as wholecrop forage, in a growing season such as this they have the potential to extract a far greater feed value from the crop by harvesting a little later,” he says.
“Grain harvested for crimping can be treated with an organic acid based preservative such as Crimpstore, and stored, compacted and sealed in a clamp within 24 hours of harvest,” he says.
“The storage requirements are as simple as those for forage, there are no costs for drying grain
and the feed is harvested and preserved at its optimum nutritional value.”
In fact, he says that more of the energy and protein are available to the animal in cereals harvested at 35-45% moisture than the same crop harvested dry, and the crimped product is also proven to create far less acid loading on the rumen than dried grain.
“A typical crop of crimped wheat would have an ME [metabolisable energy] of 13-13.5MJ/kg DM, crude protein would be around 12% or more, and starch would be 60-68%,” he says.
“A yield of five tonnes/acre would not be unreasonable, while the moist straw can either be baled and wrapped for feed, or dried on the field and baled in the conventional way,” he says.
A further advantage to harvesting moist grain
for crimping comes through the timing, which, at around three to four weeks before the main cereal harvest, is often popular with contractors.
“There are so many wins to be gained from crimping that contractors are definitely catching on and increasingly investing in crimping equipment,” he says. “Furthermore, increasing numbers of the UK’s leading beef and dairy producers are using crimp as a major component of their rations and slashing their feed costs per litre of milk or per kg beef,” he says.