silage clamp© Tim Scrivener

Initial analysis of this season’s maize silage suggests that crops are on par with last year and will perform well.

Reporting on over 700 samples received by Trouw Nutrition GB, their technical director Dr John Allen, says the initial signs are encouraging, but advises farmers not to rush into clamps and give feeds a chance to ferment fully.

“The growing season was typified by crops struggling to mature properly and many are still in the ground,” he says. “Several samples we have seen are not yet fully fermented and will benefit from more time in the clamp before being added to diets. That said, once fed they have the potential to perform well.”

See also: 6 ways to reduce maize losses from harvest to feeding

The table compares this year’s initial crops with a similar sample from last year and, for all the main parameters, this year’s crops are on a par with last year. Dry matter is similar at 32.9%. It is the same story for ME content and starch which is at 11.25MJ and 30%, respectively.

Be careful not to run out of forage

Dr Allen says it will be important to assess total silage stocks and plan for the full winter. “With some good-quality grass silage and promising maize it will be possible for some farmers to increase the proportion of forage in the diet.

“However, this should not be done if it increases the risk of running out at the back end of the season. The prudent approach will be to assess stocks, set realistic forage intakes and then supplement forages to deliver good rumen health and cost-effective production.

“While the initial maize results are encouraging it will be important to make the most of the feed, allowing it time to ferment and then incorporating it in a well-balanced diet,” Dr Allen concludes. 

Early 2017 maize silage analysis

   

2016 early samples

2017 early samples

Dry matter

%

33.9

32.9

Crude protein

% DM

7.3

7.4

D value

%

72.9

71.7

ME

MJ/kg DM

11.2

11.25

pH

 

3.9

3.94

Lactic

g/kg DM

38.8

50.7

NH3-N of total N

%

5.4

5.3

Ash

% DM

3.87

3.87

Starch

% DM

30.3

29.9

NDF

% DM

40.0

36.9

ADF

% DM

22.2

19.4

Lignin

g/kg DM

24.7

34.7

(Source: TNGB)