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Maize grain & maize silage maximise cow potential

Maize grain & maize silage maximise cow potential

2010/11 Season

Owners: Doug & Beth Leeder
Farm location: Eastern Bay of Plenty

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Feeding a combination of maize silage and maize grain helps Bay of Plenty farmers Doug, Beth and son David Leeder maximise the return on their investment in cows.

The Leeders milk 600 Friesian and Friesian cross cows on 230 hectares (eff) halfway between Opotiki and Whakatane in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. In the 2011-12 season, the farm is on track to produce 250,000 kgMS (1087 kgMS/ha and 417 kgMS/cow).

The farm, which comprises 75% flat land with drainage pumps and 25% steep hill country, is hard to manage in a wet winter. For the past 10 years, the Leeders have used maize silage fed on a stand-off pad to fill feed deficits. "Maize silage is a cost-effective feed buffer", says Doug "and it fits in well with our pasture renewal and effluent management programmes."

Doug is looking for a short maturity hybrid with excellent grain and total drymatter yield. This year he has planted 12 ha of Pioneer® brand 36M28 on farm and will also purchase around 4 ha of maize silage from a local contract grower.

"We are looking for a hybrid that produces a high drymatter yield with plenty of grain", says Doug.

In mid-November 2010 a new cow shed with an in-shed feeding system was commissioned allowing the Leeders to feed kibbled maize grain at rates determined by each cow's milk production level. This has allowed them to extend lactation, improve condition score and lift reproductive performance. Per cow production has risen from 350 to over 400 kgMS/cow.

"Each cow represents a $2,000 investment and we get a better return by feeding her fully", says Doug. "Kibbled maize is a high energy feed that represents much better value for money than processed concentrate blends."