Why maize silage?
Date: 30 August 2018
As Pioneer® brand customers, farmers reading this article are likely to be well aware some of the many benefits of feeding maize silage to their herd.
However, farmers decide to feed or grow maize for different reasons, and they may be surprised to learn that maize silage can also benefit other aspects of their farm business outside of how they have traditionally used it.
A SOLUTION TO POTENTIAL ISSUES WITH FEI.As of the 1st of September, this year, Fonterra customers will be penalised if the fat evaluation index (FEI) of their milk sits in either the C or D range. This may amount to a significant financial penalty. As PKE has been considered the key culprit, farmers have been advised to feed no more than 3kgPKE/cow/day. For those farmers needing to feed more than 3kgDM/cow/day, maize silage provides a very nice alternative without triggering the negative response in FEI.
A LOW-COST FEED:
Maize produces high yields, meaning plenty of feed at a low cost.
Assuming you are growing it yourself, and assuming a yield of 20tDM/ha, maize silage will cost between 15 to 19c/kgDM depending on the base fertility of your paddock. Buying maize silage in will cost around 28-34c/kgDM landed depending on the region and how far it needs to be carted. In contrast, the current spot price of bought-in PKE price landed on farm is 38c kg/DM (dependant on carting distance).
IMPROVED PASTURE MANAGEMENT:
Many farmers are using maize silage to manage their pastures better. Maize silage enables cows to be stood off paddocks and fed when there is a danger of either pugging or over grazing. Feeding maize silage creates pasture substitution, which can be very beneficial at crucial times of the year when pasture is short and round length needs to be lengthened.
IMPROVED COW CONDITIONMaize silage is proven to be one of the best cow conditioners farmers have available. Feeding maize silage at the end of lactation means more days in milk and better cow condition the subsequent calving.
FEED ON HAND WHEN YOU NEED IT:
Feed shortages, especially in early lactation, can increase condition score loss, resulting in an increased risks of metabolic diseases, such as milk fever and ketosis. There is also a likelihood of lower production and slower cycling.
Having maize silage on hand for the times of year when the season doesn’t go as expected makes great sense. Provided it is well-compacted and sealed, maize silage can be stored on-farm for several seasons without a deterioration in quality and fed when required.
Among the most significant reasons to grow maize is its ability to reduce nitrogen leaching. Maize, with its deep-rooting structure, removes excessive soil nutrients which have dropped out of the root zone of shallow-rooted pasture species.
Feeding maize silage in conjunction with pasture also reduces urinary nitrogen levels reducing the risk of loss into the ground water.
A GREAT TRANSITION FEED:
Many farmers in cool regions winter on fodder beet. There are a growing number of farmers who have discovered maize silage to be an ideal transition feed for cows moving from fodder beet back on to pasture. Because it contains a balance of carbohydrate (from the grain) and fibre (from the plant), it helps the rumen adjust from a high sugar diet to a digestible fibre diet.