21 February 1997

Committed to maize

MAIZE is fed all year round to the summer calving herd at Sherwood Farm, Brightwell, Oxon.

Angus Dart grows 61ha (150 acres) of maize to satisfy the 280-cow, 8000-litre herd. His maize acreage has increased at the expense of grass since 1993, releasing extra land for arable cropping.

The main variety is River, which being later suits this good maize growing area.

"River stays green, with the cob ripening before the rest of the plant," said the farms forage crop consultant, Colin Dibb. There were also small acreages of Hudson and Lincoln.

The crop yielded 50t/ha (20t/acre) fresh weight at over 30% dry matter.

Maize land received muck from the straw yards so no bag nitrogen was applied. Potash was applied to fields in autumn according to soil analysis results and phosphate applied as necessary in the spring.

The winter diet now being fed is 75% maize and 25% grass silage. It includes soda-wheat, chopped treated straw and a pre-mix of molasses, white fishmeal, Soypass, maize germ, soya and rapeseed.

At turnout the grass silage will be reduced but maize silage continued.

Herd manager Derek Loosmore aims to keep the stocking rate on grass tight. High yielders would be turned out at 15 cows a ha (six an acre).