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Inoculant delivers the results

Gareth Evans (left) and Glen McCallum (right) inspecting maize silage being fed out on the Massey University Dairy Farm.

Inoculant delivers the results

2004/05 Season

Owners: Massey University
Farm location: Palmerston North
Farm size: 330 hectares
Herd size: 876 cows

"The challenge for the Massey University farms is to provide teaching and research extension opportunities while at the same time generating a profit," says Gareth Evans, Deputy Director of Agriculture for Massey University. The university owns and manages three separate dairy units. No 1 Dairy consists of a total of 117 hectares and runs a 280 cow split autumn and spring calving herd. No 4 Dairy runs 500 Friesian and Friesian cross spring calving cows on 187 hectares. The Dairy Cattle Research Unit milks 96 cows as part of an Organic-Conventional Dairy Systems Comparison Trial.

Silage is an integral part of the management system with the three farms combined feeding a total of 250 tonnes of drymatter of maize silage, 350 tonnes of drymatter of precision chopped pasture silage, and 80 tonnes of drymatter of baled pasture silage.

Surplus spring pasture is conserved as precision chopped silage. Depending on the seasonal growth, extra pasture is purchased from a local contractor allowing the farms to fulfill feed budget requirements. All the pasture silage is inoculated with Pioneer® brand 1127.This silage is used primarily as a good source of energy and protein to fill summer feed deficits. Some grass silage is also fed in conjunction with maize silage to the autumn calving herd over the winter months.

Maize silage is primarily used to extend lactation and build body condition prior to winter. It is also introduced pre-calving and during the early lactation to maintain intakes and provide an energy dense feed that complements pasture. In the past the farms used Pioneer® brand 1132 maize silage inoculant on all of the maize silage. However two years ago they recognised their need for improved aerobic stability and made the change to Pioneer® brand 11C33.

"Due to our research requirements we can end up feeding small quantities of maize silage and that often results in spoilage at the stack face. 11C33 allows us to maintain a consistently high feed value," says Gareth.

"In the past our maize silage used to heat up and get very steamy. We knew that we were losing feed energy that should be going down the cow's throat and returning us milk. Since we started using 11C33 two years ago we have found that the silage is much cooler and last year we noticed that we had less wastage when we shut down a stack and then re-opened it. We have also noticed that the cows now clean up the residue that is left in the feed bins between mobs. This material would have previously been rejected. The net result is a more consistent feed quality, improved feed utilisation and less time spent cleaning out the bins."

"Our policy is to apply inoculant to all the silage that we make," says Gareth, "It's all about managing risk...we spend a lot of money getting the crops to the ensiling stage and inoculant helps to guarantee a good end result."