The nutritional advantages of maize silage are well proven. Maize silage is a carbohydrate feed rich in starch, coming mostly from the grain portion of the maize silage. This starch helps make maize silage an energy dense feed stuff. In a grass based dairy system
it is important to understand how maize silage best compliments pasture. When implemented correctly into a dairy system, maize silage will improve the financial
returns for the dairy farmer.
There are 6 key drivers to maximising sustainable profit from the use of maize silage.
Progressive users of maize silage are able to turn more grass into milk. Stored forages like maize silage help the manager to avoid overgrazing. These operators therefore are able to maintain grass growth within the optimum grass growth curve which helps to grow more grass.
Extending lactation length is one of the easiest ways to improve profitability. By using as little as 300kgDM/cow of maize silage lactation can be extended by as much as 30 days.
With the very high land prices farmers are investigating ways in which they can produce more milk economically from the same land area. The Dexcel run RED trial demonstrated that intensification though the use of maize silage increased the return on assets (ROA) from that operation.
Nearly 50% of maize silage is derived from the grain therefore it is the most
economical way to improve condition score. Depending on the breed, Dexcel research has shown that to put on One Condition Score requires 100 kgDM of maize silage but 180kgDM is required from grass silage (figures based upon a Jersey cow).
Nine years of data from three Taranaki dairy systems (conventional, Once a Day & high input) were studied to compare risk vs. reward. The results from this study (& many others) showed that, when used correctly, prudent use of higher input feeding systems carried less risk.
Normally, protein from grass that the cow does not require is excreted in their urine. These protein enriched urine patches have very large amounts of nitrogen which is then leached into the water table. Maize silage changes the form in which nitrogen is excreted with a higher proportion in the faeces (when compared to all grass farming) and therefore slowing nitrogen release. Environment Waikato is widely advocating the use of maize silage as a way of reducing the nitrogen loss from urine affecting water sources.
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