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Maize silage keeps cows in milking condition

Maize silage keeps cows in milking condition

2004/05 Season

Owners: Kevin and Christine Tucker
Farm location: Tapora
Farm size: 266 hectares
Herd size: 525 cows

Feeding maize silage from June till the end of January helps maintain the body condition on Kevin and Christine Tucker’s stud Jersey herd. The Tuckers along with their daughter Katherine farm Kaycee Jersey Stud on 266 hectares at Tapora, a summer dry area located 35 kilometres west of Wellsford.

The last four years have seen the farm in expansion mode with the purchase of two neighbouring properties, the building of a new feedpad and the completion of a 50 bale rotary shed last season. Last year the herd of 525 produced 356 kg milksolids per cow and 753 kg milksolids per hectare. "During the last 4 years we have been increasing farm size and stocking rate has struggled to keep up" says Kevin. "We are working towards a stocking rate of 2.5 cows per hectare and a per cow production of 400 kg milksolids in the future."

Last season the Tuckers grew 24 hectares of Pioneer® brand maize for silage on farm split between Pioneer hybrids 34B23 and 34D71. In the past they have also grown 33G26. An additional area of around 5.5 hectares is planted in Forage King greenfeed maize. As well as providing additional feed for the herd, the maize crops assist in the eradication of kikuyu on the new properties.

Calving officially starts on the 10th of June although 10% of the herd is usually in by this date. As they start milking, cows receive 1 kgDM of maize silage increasing to 2.5 kgDM/cow at the start of the second round in late July. "When the grass starts to kick-off in mid October, we reduce the maize silage down to 1 kgDM per cow but don’t pull it out of the system until we run out in late January" says Kevin. "Before we fed maize silage the cows used to lose up to one and a half condition scores in August, but now they hold their weight and milk production stays much higher." Once the maize silage finishes, the herd is fed on greenfeed maize until it runs out, which is usually near the end of March when Kevin starts to dry-off the herd.

"Historically we grew turnips on farm, but we needed to plant them in September to get enough rain for them to grow. White butterflies took out the tops, we only achieved yields of 7-8 tDM per hectare and we had to shift the fence each day. Our maize silage crops yield in excess of 20 tonnes of drymatter per hectare without too much effort."

"We like maize silage because it helps to balance the high protein in the pasture and delivers more carbohydrate so the cows don’t lose so much weight. We get a fantastic quantity of feed from a small area – in fact we get twice the amount of drymatter per annum that we can get from the same area in pasture."