Back Benefits of maize silage for dairy systems.

Date: 26 August 2015

A growing number of farmers have built very profitable yet simple systems which incorporate maize silage into their feeding system. Here's how maize silage could help you:

• Reduce feed costs.
Growing and harvesting more home grown feed will allow you to control feed costs and increase returns. Maize is a drought tolerant crop that produces reliably high yields. Most dairy farmers can grow maize silage crops yielding 18 - 26 tDM/ha for 11.2 - 16.2 c/kgDM1 in the stack. Maize silage can displace concentrates and other supplements which have higher cost per kilogram of drymatter and unit of energy.

• Pasture renewal.
Most of the costs associated with pasture-based dairying are fixed therefore the amount of feed harvested off every hectare has a big impact on profitability. Maize not only produces high drymatter yields but can help you establish higher performing pastures. Cropping removes the normal feed source for pasture pests such as Black Beetle, Argentine Stem Weevil and Pasture Nematodes. This interrupts their breeding cycle and reduces insect pressure on seedling plants during pasture renewal.

• Help control your pasture.
Because maize silage is a forage, you can vary the amount fed to control pasture residuals, keeping ryegrass in its most productive growth stage. If pasture cover is low, increase the maize silage feeding rate and leave more pasture behind. If you have plenty of grass on hand you can reduce the silage feeding rate and clean up paddocks better.

• Eliminate feed shortages.
Supplements deliver the greatest return when fed during genuine feed shortages or to increase days in milk. While many crops must be fed when they are mature, maize silage can be stacked and fed when required. Well compacted and sealed maize can hold its quality for several seasons providing nutritious feed when you need it.

• Increase cow condition score.
The ideal body condition score at calving is 5.5 for first and second calvers and 5.0 for older cows. Cows which calve at the ideal condition score produce more milk and cycle faster. Energy in maize silage is used 50% more efficiently than energy in autumn pasture to put weight on cows.

• Make the most of effluent.
Applying dairy shed effluent to pasture often results in a build-up of soil potassium and a higher risk of milk fever. It can also increase the risk of nitrogen leaching. Maize thrives on the nutrients contained in effluent, and it can mine excess soil nutrients reducing the risk of milk fever and nitrogen loss to water.

To learn how maize silage can fit into your farming system call 0800 PIONEER (746 633).

1Pioneer® brand Maize for Silage catalogue 2015/2016