The first full comparison of the costs of baling versus clamping – jointly developed by The Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER) and Dow – has given a significant boost to baling, showing cost benefits of up to £13.86 per tonne of fresh silage fed over clamping the same crop.

In a 200-cow dairy herd eating 1600 tonnes of silage over the winter, this means a benefit of £22,000 each year simply from the reduced feed losses and improved nutritional content in baled silage, which greatly outweigh slightly higher production costs than clamping.

The information from the economic benefit model has been collated into an easily-used ‘calculator’ that gives figures for three different grass silage crops: low energy grass; young, high energy grass; and a clover/grass mix. It also gives different figures for beef and milk production.

Bailed Silage
Grass/red clover
(18% protein)
Grass at
10 ME
Grass at
11.5 ME
Dairy Beef Dairy Beef Dairy Beef
Cost of production £21 £21 £22 £22 £20 £20
% losses 8% 8% 10% 10% 8% 8%
Production/tonne fresh crop 616 litres 49.3kg 524 litres 35.1kg 605 litres 47.4kg
Economic benefit/tonne fresh silage +£13.86 +£11.25 +£7.93 +£3.93 +£12.20 +£9.80
Clamp Silage
Grass/red clover
(18% protein)
Grass at
10 ME
Grass at
11.5 ME
Dairy Beef Dairy Beef Dairy Beef
Cost of production £18 £18 £16 £16 £18 £18
% losses 22% 22% 23% 23% 20% 20%
Production/tonne fresh crop 522 litres 41.8kg 448 litres 30.0kg 526 litres 41.3kg
Economic benefit/tonne fresh silage +£0 +£0 +£0 +£0 +£0 +£0

Source: IGER

The results astonished even Raymond Jones’ team at IGER, who developed the model. They said that while grass/clover crops at 18 per cent protein give the greatest benefit to baling at £13.86 extra profit per tonne of fresh silage fed to dairy herds and £11.25 for beef cattle, other silages still show a big advantage.

Young high-energy grass provides benefits of £12.20 and £9.80 respectively, and even older grass at 10MJ ME adds £7.93 per tonne of silage fed to the bottom line for dairy herds, and £3.93 to beef enterprises.

What the model shows is that even though baling remains more expensive than clamping as an ensiling method, radically lower levels of spoilage and better fermentation quality gives bales a tremendous advantage.

To order a copy of the Economic Benefit Tool, fill out our Contact Us form and check "Please send me a copy of the 'Bale versus Clamp' Economic Benefit Tool."

< back

Back to...