POOR quality forage was a major cause of the UK finishing the milk year under quota at the end of March 2001, according to Dr Shirley Heron of Ecosyl Products.

"Weather was a crucial factor, affecting both the grass and maize harvesting seasons, but many producers were also forced to cut corners due to a low milk price and zero profitability.

"Silage inputs declined in general and many management decisions were based on cost and cash flow rather than sound scientific evidence and proven returns. The result was a double blow to farmers pockets, with reduced output from forage and increased spending on purchased feeds."

Dr Heron advises a return to fundamental principles, with investment in proven production aids as a matter of routine, but only when they are supported by reliable scientific proof.

"Although it is a scientific fact that some silage inoculants improve fermentation and increase milk production, many products have very little evidence to support them and claims are often made on the results of just one or two trials," said Dr Heron.

Updated: 09:29 Thursday, May 31, 2001