Increasing stage of maturity of maize at harvest significantly improved animal performance when offered as the sole forage, Tim Keady (right) of ARINI told delegates.

The trial, which aimed to evaluate effects of maturity at harvest and level of inclusion in forage-based diets on feed intake and performance, involved offering two maize silages as a sole forage or in addition to grass silage at a ratio of 50:50 maize and grass, supplemented with 4kg of concentrate a day.

Varieties used for the study were Nescio, which was sown open, and Goldcob, which was sown under plastic, and were offered ad lib.

Concentrates consisted of barley, maize meal, sugar beet pulp, soya bean and molasses, said Dr Keady.

“Results showed that increasing maize maturity at harvest increased feed intake, final liveweight, liveweight gain, carcass gain and carcass weight, when offered as sole forage.”

Level of inclusion failed to alter feed intake or animal performance, he added.

But when offered in mixed forage diets, regardless of stage of maturity at harvest, maize inclusion also tended to improve performance.

“Feeding maize silage had a potential concentrate sparing effect of up to 2.5kg a head a day, depending on maturity at harvest and level of inclusion.”