Farm Profiles View Latest Profiles

Back to farm profiles

Maize silage - integral part of wet farm's management strategy

Dean Petersen (left) with Pioneer Area Manager Robin Billett inspecting Dean's crop of 34D71.

Maize silage - integral part of wet farm's management strategy

2007/08 Season

Owners: Dean and Sharyn Petersen
Farm location: Opotiki
Farm size: 96 ha (eff.)
Herd size: 230 cows

Since leaving school Dean Petersen has climbed the ladder from farm worker to sharemilker and eventually farm owner. Today, Dean, wife Sharyn and their children Troy (14), Alana (13), Kayla (10) and Nicole (3) are farming 1,250 cows on three properties near Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty.

The 96 ha (eff.) home farm milked 230 predominantly Friesian cows and produced 92,000 kgMS (958 kgMS/ha and 400 kgMS/cow) during the 2006/07 season. Down the road at Tironui Farms (owned by Robin and Delwyn Brown) the Petersens sharemilk 660 cows on 220 ha (eff.) and produced 210,000 kgMS (955 kgMS/ha and 318 kgMS/cow).

This season, they are milking 240 cows at home and are on track to produce 100,000 kgMS (1,041 kgMS/ha and 416 kgMS/cow). At Tironui Farms, the 660 cow herd should produce around 1,000 kgMS/ha (333 kgMS/cow).

On 1 June 2007, the Petersens purchased a 110 ha (eff.) farm at Waiotahi. In their first season, they are milking 280 Friesian cows and are on track to produce 106,000 kgMS (963 kgMS/ha and 378 kgMS/cow).

All of the farms are winter wet and are flooded by rivers at least once most years. Dean estimates that around 20% of the home farm, 10% of Tironui Farms and 60% of Waiotahi can go under when it floods.

Maize silage is fed on all three farms. Last year, Dean grew 14.5 ha of Pioneer® brand 34B23 and 34D71, which yielded around 25 tDM/ha. This year, he has planted Pioneer® brand 34D71 on 4.5 ha at home, 11 ha at Tironui Farms and 6 ha of Pioneer® brand 36B08 at Waiotahi. He will also buy in 4 ha, which will be fed at Tironui Farms. All of the maize silage is inoculated with Pioneer® brand silage inoculant.

"Maize is an important part of our re-grassing programme. We find the combination of cultivation and spraying out twice (before and after the maize crop) helps us establish good new pastures," says Dean. "It's windy here so we are looking for hybrids with good stalk strength that will produce a high yield, providing plenty of maize silage for our cows."

While some of the maize silage is fed in the spring, depending on pasture growth rate, the bulk is fed immediately after harvest to put weight onto the cows prior to winter.

"Once they are at least CS 5 we stop feeding maize silage and keep the rest for the spring," says Dean. "We find that maize silage is better for putting weight on cows than other feed options."

In the next few years, the Petersen's key objective will be to improve the farm's pasture quality so that they can get even higher yields and better performance from their herds.

"Maize silage will play a big part in helping us to achieve this objective."