This paper reviews the production of, and factors affecting the performance of dairy cows, beef cattle and sheep offered silage based diets in Ireland and UK. Digestibility is the most important factor influencing the feed value of grass silage and consequently animal performance. Each 10 g kg-1 increase in digestive organic matter in the dry matter (DOMD) increases milk yield of dairy cows by 0.33 kg d-1, carcass gain of beef cattle by 23.8 g d-1 , carcass gain of finishing lambs by 9.3 g d-1, lamb birth weight by 52.3 g and ewe weight post lambing by 1.3 kg, respectively. Factors influencing feed value of grass silage are discussed including harvest date, wilting, fertilizer management, chop length and use of additives at ensiling. Maize silage increases the performance of cattle and sheep whilst whole crop wheat silage has no beneficial effect. Advances in silage technology, has enabled the ensiling high protein forages, such as red clover, lucerne and kale.
- silage, utilisation, grass, maize, whole crop, diary cows, beef , sheep