Dairy farmer Jonathan Evans wanted to improve milk quality from his 220 cows to improve milk price and he is now reaping the benefits of close teamwork between his Wynnstay Agronomist and Nutritionist.
Inclusion of maize in the dairy ration has long been favoured by many dairy farmers and with the current costs of other crops and inputs, 2022 represents an even better opportunity for maize.
Before getting started with clamping maize, clean out old silage. If you had a problem with mouldy silage the previous year, be particularly thorough with clamp hygiene.
On exposure to air silage can begin to break down resulting in heating and high DM losses. This process is known as aerobic spoilage. Aerobic spoilage is initiated mainly by yeasts which can grow using a variety of different substances particularly residual sugars and lactic acid. After the initial yeast activity, moulds join in. They are able to grow on a wider range of substances so spoilage accelerates. Such silages will also have reduced palatability.
Maize silage can be prone to losses from poor fermentation. These losses are invisible and can run at about 8% for maize harvested at the recommended dry matter content. However in some cases they may be higher – e.g. with some suggestion that DM losses can be as high as 20- 30% between the field (pre-harvest) and what finally ends up in the rumen.
Harvesting maize at the wrong whole-plant DM can result in reduced silage quality. Don’t leave maize to die off before harvesting it, as many farmers do. We recommend harvesting according to the correct dry matter – for example, when the whole plant is at around 30-33% DM. However, don’t leave it to get too dry as this makes it more difficult to consolidate in the clamp.
When your maize is ensiled at the recommended DM of 32 to 35% there is still enough sugar present for fermentation to achieve a stable low pH.
Maize has a low buffering capacity so the pH falls fast, often to a pH as low as 3.5. Natural fermentation can often result in much higher proportions of acetic acid and ethanol, an indication of a less efficient fermentation which could b
Remember to maintain your focus on getting the best returns from forage maize crops even after the growing season is over. All too often, it is easy to think that the majority of the attention to detail with maize needs to go into growing the crop, but that's only hald the story.
Top tips and guidelines you need to know about when it comes to harvesting maize.