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Maize silage stabilises production

Maize silage stabilises production

2010/11 Season

Owners: Gerard & Denise Wolvers
Farm location: Te Awamutu, Waikato

Maize silage has helped Gerard and Denise Wolvers stabilise milk production, delivering profit and peace-of-mind even when the grass isn't growing.

The Wolvers, assisted by farm manager Wayne Buckley, milk 780 Friesian and Friesian cross cows on 203 ha (eff) 18 km south of Te Awamutu. In the 2010-11 season they produced 325,000 kgMS and in the 2011-12 season, they should produce over 350,000 kgMS (1,724 kgMS/ha or 448 kgMS/cow). Pioneer® brand maize silage is purchased from a local contractor and is fed during the lactation at 1.7 tDM/cow.

"Maize silage delivers excellent energy levels and is safe to feed", says Wayne.

"We use it to fully feed the cows to keep condition on and allow them to realise their genetic production potential." Maize silage also helps to maintain farm pasture persistence and yield.

"The last few tough seasons have shown that by feeding maize silage, we can avoid overgrazing and protect our pasture base", says Gerard.

"This allows us to maximise our pasture yield potential." The Wolvers have an in-shed feeding system, but they don't use it.

"The feed pad allows us to keep cows off pasture and we can feed high amounts of supplements if we need to", says Gerard. "We always have maize silage in the stack so we are not worried about whether or not we can source extra feed when we need it."

A combination of higher milk yields, low animal health costs, less cull cows and more heifers to sell means the system is very profitable. However, Gerard believes there is more to farming than just money.

"If I was perfectly honest I would say I am prepared to sacrifice a bit of profit for the peace-of-mind and satisfaction this system delivers."