Back Dont miss out this maize silage harvest

Date: 18 February 2015

Once your maize silage crop has reached silage harvest point, your focus needs to shift from maximising crop yield and quality to minimising losses. Good stack management coupled with the use of a proven silage inoculant can help ensure you lose less drymatter and nutrients and that you don't miss out on more feed, more energy and more milkTM.

Silage inoculants

Most crops lack sufficient numbers of the right bacteria to ensure a fast, efficient fermentation. Silage inoculants contain large numbers of tested and proven "good" bacteria. When added to the crop at harvest time they multiply, controlling the fermentation process. As a result, less energy and drymatter is lost during ensiling and you get more feed energy which your cows can use to produce milk.

The positive effects of silage inoculants observed in controlled industry and university studies include:
• Lower silage pH
• Greater drymatter recovery (less shrinkage, spoilage and run-off)
• Improved silage digestibility (higher feed energy levels)
• Increased animal performance (more milk or more meat per tonne of silage fed)

Just as two cows differ in their ability to convert pasture into milk, silage bacteria differ in their ability to convert sugar to lactic acid and make good silage. Research shows that proven products such as Pioneer® brand 1132 can deliver up to $6.73 return per dollar invested when compared to an untreated control1. Don't waste your money on an unproven product, always ask for product-specific inoculant trial data.

Reduce heat
Maize silage is more prone to heating at feed-out time than other silages because it contains a high concentration of starch and sugars. Silage inoculants like Pioneer® brand 11C33 can help keep silage cooler for longer. In fact a published New Zealand trial showed 11C33 inoculated maize silage stayed cooler 55.5 hours longer than an untreated control2. Less heating means your maize silage loses less energy so your herd can produce more milk.

Compact well
Compaction removes air from the silage stack so the fermentation process can begin. Ensure your maize is well compacted by matching the size and number of compaction vehicles with the rate of maize silage delivery to the stack. A better compaction will be achieved if maize is spread in thin (100-150 mm) layers.

Seal the stack
Seal the edges of the stack or bunker using sand or lime. Use a high grade plastic cover and weigh it down securely using tyres which are touching. Place rodent baits in stations around the stack and refill them on a regular basis.

Opening stacks or bunkers
While the maize in your stack or bunker can be fed out immediately, its feed value will increase slightly over time as fermentation bacteria improve the availability of nutrients, especially starch. For this reason it is recommended farmers always keep a stack of maize silage on hand so last year's silage can be fed out while the new silage is fermenting.

Face and pace

Two critical factors associated with reducing silage losses are management of the front (or face) of the stack, and feed-out rate. Design your bunker or stack so you can remove 15-20 cm from stack face each day. Keeping the stack face tight throughout the feed-out period will reduce the amount of time the silage is exposed to the air. This will decrease the risk of mould growth and spoilage and help minimise energy and drymatter losses.

Get more maize silage drymatter and energy and reduce spoilage and losses by using a Pioneer® brand inoculant and following good management practices this harvest time. Your cows will thank you by delivering more milkTM!

For more information on Pioneer® brand inoculants, click here, talk to your local Pioneer representative, or call 0800 PIONEER (0800 746 633). 




1Returns are calculated relative to an untreated control using drymatter recovery data from Pioneer trials, Washington State University milk production trial results and a milksolids payout of $4.70/kgMS.

2Kleinmans et al, 2011. Using silage inoculants to improve the quality of pasture and maize silage in NZ. Proceedings of the NZ Grassland Association 73: 75-80.While maize silage can be fed immediately after harvest, maximum aerobic stability gains will be made when it is fermented 30 days prior to feeding.