Cutting crops for both silage and hay an option this season, says Byrneside contractor

By Rodney Woods

With dairy farmers making up the majority of his hay and silage clients, contractor Graeme Donaldson admitted that side of the business had declined.

But for those still milking cows, he said there were high hopes for a good season.

Mr Donaldson, who runs the Byrneside contracting business, Donaldson Ag, with his father, who is also named Graeme, said the recent rain had provided farmers with an option that had not been available to them for a while.

“With water in the catchments this year it may tempt farmers to cut an early silage crop then re-irrigate and get a cut of hay,” he said.

“That's a benefit of being able to cut silage early.

“It hasn't been an option recently.

“A lack of water availability and high water prices has restricted them.”

Mr Donaldson said having the option of cutting the crop for both hay and silage increases the quality of feed.

“It makes the difference if you can cut two quality crops rather than one mature crop as the feed tests drop off dramatically.”

Mr Donaldson uses John Deere tractors and Kuhn balers, which he purchased from Haeusler's Shepparton and explains why he keeps on going back.

“My old man has been buying from there for more than 30 years,” he said.

“Kuhn are very good at backing their product and the John Deere tractors are better than anything else.

“I've tried a few others but they're (John Deere tractors) a premium product.”

Haeusler's sales representative Colin Down agreed the machinery used by Mr Donaldson was top shelf.

“John Deere is premium brand, they hold their value and are always quality,” Mr Down said.

“With the new models out, the ease of use is really nice, the comfort and feature layouts are great and they work well in combination with hay balers and the new transmissions.

“The Kuhn balers that Graeme uses are a high density baler and come with a large pick-up and are one of the biggest balers in the market.

“We sell both John Deere and Kuhn balers but we probably sell more of the Kuhn balers.”

With many dairy farmers leaving the industry recently, Mr Donaldson said the hay and silage side of his business had slowed.

“In the hay and silage space, dairy is our client base but we have had a significant downturn in the last decade,” he said.

“There doesn't seem to be a lot of sheep and beef farmers doing silage, it's more dairy and there's not many of them left.”

When asked for any tips on making quality silage, Mr Donaldson said cutting the crop at the right time was the key to success.

“You need to cut it at the right time and keep it clean and airtight,” he said.

“Every crop is different but you should cut it before it reaches too much maturity.”