Introduction

During the past decade New Zealand dairy farms have intensified with farmers milking more cows per hectare and producing more milk per cow. Feed demand per hectare has increased at a greater rate than pasture supply and as a consequence, there has been a move away from all- grass towards farm systems that strategically use supplementary feeds.

While many farmers have recognised the benefits of feeding home-grown or purchased in forages such as maize silage, there has been a large increase in the use of concentrates fed mainly through in-shed feeding systems. In-shed feeding systems are convenient allowing farmers to easily feed concentrates during milking by simply pushing a button or pulling a cord. While feeding forages normally requires some forward planning, concentrates can usually be purchased as required. There are a range of concentrates available on the New Zealand market including grains, dairy meal, molasses and palm kernel extract. Maize grain is increasing in popularity with dairy farmers. It has a number of key advantages over other grains and concentrates.

 

Key advantages of maize grain over other grains and concentrates:

  • It is the highest quality commonly-used concentrate with higher energy levels than other grains, molasses, palm kernel extract and the majority of dairy meals.
  • It is more slowly digested in the rumen than other grains, decreasing the risk of acidosis.
  • It has a high starch content which drives milk protein percentage. Since milk protein is worth substantially more than milk fat, this increases milksolids returns.
  • It’s low nitrogen content means it can be used to reduce urinary nitrogen levels, decreasing nitrogen leaching.
  • Maize grain is locally grown which means its price and supply is not subject to the exchange rate or overseas demand.