18 February 2000

Jersey herd thrives on silage-rich diet

JERSEY cows perform well on a diet high in maize silage and low in concentrate on one Somerset unit.

Claude Wadman and sons, Laurence and Ian, grew 23ha (58 acres) of maize for their 165 cow Jersey herd at Elliscombe Farm, near Wincanton.

From a ration including maize as half the forage, cows yield 5270 litres at 5.16% fat and 3.81% protein. Costings show yield from forage of 2650 litres and concentrate use at 0.25kg/litre.

"Within six months we hope to be producing 3000 litres from forage," says Laurence. Maize is crucial in meeting this objective.

"As soon as we put maize in cow diets last autumn yields went up two litres a cow."

He hopes to increase the maize area to 28ha (70 acres) this year. This will provide more maize for summer feeding at 2-3kg DM a day to supplement rotationally grazed grass.

"MGA research says feeding maize in summer is not always necessary. But these are not Friesian cows and when we take it out of cow rations they lose a couple of litres."

But rations for this herd are not complex. Forage is loaded into round feeders and troughs, and 1kg of wheat with 1kg of soya and rape mix is fed on top. This is supplemented with 2-3kg of a high quality compound in the parlour.

Mr Wadman sees no reason to buy an expensive mixer wagon. "We would need more troughs and it would take more time to feed cows."

COMPETITION LESSONS

&#8226 Maize is a good break crop for wheat.

&#8226 Improvement in varieties is rapid.

&#8226 Use a thick airtight sheet.

&#8226 Clamps with battered soil sides showed least waste.

&#8226 Additive is not essential with well chopped and consolidated maize.

&#8226 Make firm objectives to succeed.

&#8226 Use independent feeding advice.

&#8226 High milk yields possible from a rape, wheat and soya ration.

Lawrence Wadman (second left) finds cow yields drop a couple of litres when maize is removed from rations.