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Maize silage fills feed deficits

Andrew Morris with his crop of Pioneer® brand 38F70 on his Ealing farm in Mid Canterbury.

Maize silage fills feed deficits

2005/06 Season

Owners: Andrew and Rachele Morris
Farm location: Ealing
Farm size: 650 hectares
Herd size: 2,700 cows

Andrew and Rachele Morris farm a 1,285 hectare property at Ealing on the terraces of the Rangitata river south of Ashburton. The milking platform for the 2005-2006 season comprised 650 hectares under centre pivot irrigation with the rest of the farm run as a beef and dairy support unit. This season the milking herd consisted of 2,500 spring calving and 200 autumn calving Friesian cross cows.

Each year around 40 hectares of Pioneer® brand maize silage is planted on the dairy support area around the 10th of October. "We need a maize silage hybrid that gives us maximum drymatter yield and quality. We are not worried about the maturity length, as long as we can get the maize silage through to harvest maturity" says Andrew. "For the last two years, 38F70 topped Pioneer’s maize silage trials on our property, so we have planted this as our commercial crop. Last year our maize yielded 19.5 tDM/ha and this year’s crop is looking even better."

"Since we can consistently achieve good yields, maize silage is a cost-effective milking quality feed that provides a good carbohydrate balance to our high protein pasture."

After the maize silage is harvested in the second half of April, triticale is direct drilled into the stubble. The triticale is harvested in December and the cropping area is planted into permanent pasture. "The triticale silage yields very well," says Andrew, "but we only feed it to dry cows because it is not high enough in quality to feed to the milkers."

The only cows on the milking platform during the winter are the 350 winter milkers who are fed pasture plus a mix of maize silage (4 kgDM/cow/day), potatoes, molasses, lucerne and straw to meet the 5,000 litre per day winter milk contract. The spring calving herd are brought back onto the milking platform as they calve from late July (heifers) and early August (cows) onwards. Maize silage is fed to fill pasture deficits during the season especially in the spring when cold weather significantly limits pasture growth. It is also fed during the last six weeks of lactation at up to 5 kgDM/cow to put weight back on the cows. The herd is dried off around the 1st of June.

In the 2004/05 season the herd produced 750,000 kgMS in total and this year it is on target to produce slightly over 1,000,000 kgMS.