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Maize silage and high per cow production deliver results

Grant Gibson with daughter Grace on his farm Oakdale Holstein Stud near Napier.

Maize silage and high per cow production deliver results

2005/06 Season

Owners: Grant and Bridget Gibson
Farm location: Napier
Farm size: 26 hectares
Herd size: 60 cows

Grant and Bridget Gibson along with twin sons Alex and Taylor (9), and daughter Grace (7) run Oakdale Holstein Stud on 26 hectares on the outskirts of Napier.

Last season their 60 registered Holstein cows produced an average of 596 kgMS/cow placing them in the top 1% of New Zealand herds for per cow performance.

For the last several years the Gibsons have planted around 3.5 hectares of Pioneer® brand maize silage on farm.

"We started growing maize silage because we needed more energy to lift per cow performance. I love growing maize because it produces a truckload of feed from a small area. Our crops consistently yield more than 30 tDM per hectare allowing us to get it in the stack for 10-12 cents/kgDM" says Grant. "I reckon maize silage should be compulsory for all farmers."

The Gibson’s maize is planted in late September and harvested at the beginning of March to enable pasture to be sown prior to the winter. Hybrid selection is important because the cows are being fed up to to 10 kgDM of maize silage per day.

"While our main focus is yield, we are also looking for high grain content, high energy silage. Last spring we planted 34B23 which produced high yields with excellent whole plant digestibility and a high grain content. We have also found that it is very palatable and the cows love to eat it."

For the Gibsons, one of the advantages of running a small, intensive system is the benefits to family life that it brings. Grant's off-farm interests include deer stalking and pheasanting while Bridget is a Holstein judge and also a boutique cheese maker.

"While we are focused on return on investment, farming is more than this for us" says Grant. "I find it rewarding to milk cows that are delivering a lot of milk. Because we don’t have a large farm to run, we can make time to do the things that we love. That’s the best thing about what we are doing."