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Maize delivering real benefits on the coast

Maize delivering real benefits on the coast

2013/14 Season

Owners: Craig and Louise Fayen
Farm location: Grey Valley, Greymouth
Farm size: 180 ha
Herd size: 350
Pioneer® brand hybrids grown: 39G12

The couple and their three children Jack (10), Kirsty (8) and Troy (4) milk 350 Jersey and Jersey-cross cows on 180 ha in the Grey Valley, 24km north of Greymouth. The original portion of the farm was bought in 1997 and the past 17 years have been spent developing it from a wet piece of land to productive dairy pasture. The purchase and development of five smaller blocks has added to the farm’s milking area over time.

The Fayens planted their first 6 ha maize crop in November 2011. They have quickly increased their maize area and in the 2013-14 season they have 16 ha of Pioneer® brand 39G12 in the ground.

“Everyone told us you couldn’t grow good maize crops on the Coast, but we are more than happy with the results” says Craig.

Maize silage is inoculated with Pioneer® brand 1132 and stored in above-ground stacks. It is fed under fencelines in dry weather or in mobile troughs in the farm’s races when conditions are wetter.

“We use Pioneer® brand inoculant because we figure it is a good match with Pioneer® brand maize seed” says Craig. “Our maize silage is great quality and the cows will chase the tractor to get it”.

While the first maize silage crop was due to be fed in the early lactation, dry weather meant it was usedto extend lactation and put weight on cows in the autumn. The results were “fantastic” and in the 2012-13 season maize silage was fed from harvest in early April right through until November.

“Winter on the Coast can be really cruel because the weather’s so cold and wet” says Craig. “It’s hard to put weight on cows and keep it there”.

“Feeding maize silage meant our cows were in excellent condition at calving and their calves were bigger. The replacement calves were easier to rear and our bobby calf payment was double the usual amount. The cows cycled quicker after calving and are on track to produce a record production of 135,000 kgMS (385 kgMS/cow and 750 kgMS/ha) in the 2013-14 season”.

“For the first time in 17 years we didn’t need to turn the meal feeding system on in the spring. The $60,000 which we normally would have spent on meal was more than enough to pay the bill for our maize silage crops”.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the benefit – they’re the best calves we’ve ever had”.

Not only did maize silage work for the cows but the Fayens fed it to their heifer calves from the start of the 2013 winter onwards with pleasing results.

“We put maize silage on a trailer and let the calves help themselves” says Craig. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the benefit – they’re the best calves we’ve ever had”.

Craig believes one of the key benefits of maize silage is that it can be grown on-farm. “It costs around $1,000 to bring a truck over the hill to the Coast and this equates to a freight cost of $40/tonne for meal or $19 per bale for straw” says Craig. “Maize silage is very attractive because you can grow it yourself and there‘s no freight cost”.

With the development of the farm virtually completed the Fayens are now focusing on lifting production. Cow numbers will be increased to 420 in the 2014-15 season and an area has been selected for the construction of a feed pad sometime down the track.

The couple plan to feed more maize silage and ultimately Craig would like to have three stacks on farm.

“I’d like to have a stack to increase cow condition in late lactation and another to fully feed them between calving and mating” says Craig. “The final stack would be our “insurance policy” in case the summer turns dry”.