Starting to feed maize silage

Introduce maize silage into the diet over a period of 5-10 days. Start by allocating each animal 1-2 kg drymatter and increase the amount that you feed each day. A slow introduction will allow starch digesting bacteria levels to increase and will improve utilisation and minimise the risk of acidosis (grain overload). Animals that have not been fed maize silage previously may take a few days to acquire a taste for it. Feeding out large quantities of maize silage in the first few days may result in unnecessary wastage.

Feeding maize silage in advance

If you wish to feed out your maize silage up to one day in advance, use Pioneer® brand 11C33 maize silage specific inoculant and ensure that silage has fermented for at least 30 days prior to feeding. If you have not used 11C33, the best time to fill your feed-out wagon or bins is immediately prior to the time that you will feed the silage to your cows.

Methods of feeding maize silage

Feed pad

An increasing number of farmers are feeding maize silage on a feed pad that doubles as a stand-off area. The advantages of building a feed pad include:

  • Reduced supplement losses
  • Better pasture utilisation - less pugging in wet weather
  • Less overgrazing resulting in faster pasture growth rates
  • Lower labour requirement for feeding out

Feed pads are a significant investment. Your local Pioneer Representative can help you determine whether building a feed pad will pay dividends for you.

In the paddock

Where a feed pad is not available maize silage can be fed-out in the paddock using a feed-out wagon. Maize silage can be dumped in piles (by remaining stationary and allowing the silage to feed-out) or in a line in the paddock. Feeding along a fence line will improve utilisation as the animals cannot walk (and dung) in the silage. The important point to note with either system is that there needs to be room for the entire herd to feed at once. Considerable wastage can occur if animals are fighting for a space.

Typically maize silage has a pH of 3.8-4.2 whereas fresh pasture has a pH close to 6.0. Acid burn of the pasture can be minimised if the maize silage is fed-out onto the fresh break of pasture rather than onto a paddock that has been grazed out.