From 08 – 12th of May the winners of Top Silage 2016, visited together with colleague farmers from Russia, several companies and farms in the Netherlands. The visit was the winning prize connected to the award, organized and sponsored by Eurofins Agro, Barenbrug, CRV, Danone and Nutrivice Consultancy.

Passion for Grass

One of the visits was to one of the sponsors, Barenbrug Holland BV, worldwide specialist in plant breeding and grass seed production. Christiaan Heijink and Jos van der Wielen explained characteristics of several types of grass, seeds and newest innovations. Special attention was paid to lucerne and grass in Russia, conditions for grazing, differences between grasses and the several grass mixtures in different situations. After the presentation there was a tour through the processing company.

Livestock improvement

On Wednesday morning, on behalf of CRV, Fokko Aldershoff explained various genetic strategies in the selection of various bulls to improve the herd for the future. Special attention was given to the breeding values and possibilities to select on a specific CRV parameter, which is called Better Life Efficiency. Better Life Efficiency takes into account milk production per day, milk production per life (life time performance) and feed efficiency. Feed efficiency is a very interesting parameter as in the end a cow transforms feed into milk. The more efficient, the better.

22 dry matter of maize/hectare

During the visits to the dairy farms and contractor the Russian delegation learned how many tons of maize silages can be harvested from one hectare. On the dairy farm of Mark van Erp, (200 lactating cows, 150 young stock, 11.000 kg milk in 305 days), one hectare delivers between 18 to 22 mton of dry matter (equivalent to 45-55 mton of product, when 40% dry matter). This production makes that only 82 hectares of forages are required to feed all the cows and young stock.

Besides the quantity, also the quality is impressive, with almost 45% starch in the maize silage. Attached the analysis of the maize silage of dairy farm van Erp:


During the visit to the contractor Huismans in Winterswijk, Gerard Abbink explained to the group all kind of details about the grass winning and the silage process in the Netherlands. Especially the fertilisation, moment of harvesting, particle size of the grass, compacting methods and usage of silage inoculants.




Give cows the chance to get old

At the farm of Jos Knoef, one of the most famous farmers in the Netherlands, the group learned about how to help cows to get old on the farm. Most important breeding goal for the Knoef family are cows that are able to achieve a high life-time production, with high protein contents in the milk. This results in the fact that already over 60 cows at the farm have reached the 100.000 kg of milk lifetime production. A normal replacement rate at the farm is as low as 13-15%.

Very special at the farm is cow Big Boukje 192 (see picture). She is at this moment almost 19 years old, and is the first cow in the Netherlands that produced over 200.000 kg of milk in her life! What an achievement.

Eurofins Agro

Of course there was also the visit to Eurofins Agro, where Jan Bakker presented the company and explained the farmers about the importance of analyzing forages before feeding them to their herd. The visit was enriched with a tour through the laboratory. In the laboratory more than 200 people analyze over 700.000 samples of soil, forage, ingredients and manure each year. Peter van Dooren explained how to read and work with the new Rumen Character parameters Eurofins Agro has developed.

Impression of the group

All participants of the Russian delegation were impressed with their visit to the Netherlands. For them it was an experience to see and to learn from selected very high performing Dutch farmers about the process of producing forages and milk. During the presentations, there was a lot of interaction and discussion, all to understand better and better what should and can be implemented on Russian to improve the forage quality and the milkproduction.

All participants of the group enjoyed their stay in the Netherlands and would like to thank all the sponsors of the Topsilage for organizing this trip.

On Friday the group returned to their home country with a lot of new ideas and motivations.

Are you going to be the winner of Topsilage 2017? Participate in the contest and we would be pleased to meet you next year in the Netherlands or at another interesting place on this planet!