7 May 1999

Maize additive proves a success despite weather

USING an additive which enhances maize silage quality has allowed one Leics farming family to feed 1kg less concentrate/cow/day without a substantial fall in milk production.

Garth Kirk, together with son Nigel and daughter Julie milk 130 Holstein cows averaging 6520 litres. They also grow 81 ha (200 acres) of wheat and 17 ha (43 acres) of maize on their 212ha (525-acre) Wilds Farm, Little Dalby, Melton Mowbray.

As part of a trial last autumn, a new additive was applied to maize silage at harvest with the aim of increasing protein levels. Satisfied with the results, the Kirks will plant an extra 12ha (30 acres) of maize this year, enabling them to substitute a greater proportion of maize for grass silage than in the current 50:50 regime.

The enhancer, HiproLive, from Genus, is a biological liquid inoculant with urea prills. It is applied via applicators on the forager, one applying the liquid at 2 litres/t and the other applying urea at 4kg/t. It costs £2.30/t, says the company.

Poor weather conditions at Wilds Farm delayed harvest until November. With two tractors needed to pull the harvester through the mud and some very dry looking maize, expectations were low.

But with silage analysing at 30% DM, 72 D-value, 11.5 ME and 12% protein, its eventual quality gave the Kirks a pleasant surprise. The boost to protein meant that Nigel was able to cut concentrates.

"Last year we fed about 1.5kg soya, 1.5kg rape and 1kg maize gluten. We have been able to reduce the soya and rape to 1kg each this year. With the soya/rape mix at £105/t, this is a saving of 10.5p/cow/day." This represents a £13/day reduction in feed costs for the whole herd.

Mr Kirk is also impressed with the silages consistency. "This method of application gives a good, even spread throughout the clamp," he says.

Trials carried out at ADAS Bridgets using HiproLive show an increase in crude protein of 1.8 % in the enhanced silage compared with untreated silage, as well as a 3% decrease in lignin, explains Maize Growers Association consultant Gordon Newman. "The reduction in lignin means that more protein and energy may be available to the animal."

Urea fears allayed

Fears about urea inclusion in the enhancer are allayed by Mr Newman. "The enhancer is putting undegradable protein into maize silage; it is not urea when it goes in front of the cows."

ADAS figures show that using the additive and feeding more forage allows the level of compound feed to be reduced.

In the ADAS Bridgets trial, Holstein Friesians were fed one of two total mixed rations based on maize silage ensiled with or without HiproLive. Cows on the untreated maize silage were fed a 10kg DM mix of maize and grass silage (80:20) and 11.3kg DM concentrates. Those on the treated maize silage were fed 12kg DM of the silage mix and 9.2 kg DM concentrates.

The trial showed that using the enhanced maize silage allowed concentrate to be cut by up to 2.3kg/cow/day with no effect on dry matter intake, milk yield, and milk quality when extra forage is fed. For a 100-cow herd this amounts to a saving of 41t of compound feed over the winter feeding period, it says. &#42

ENHANCEDMAIZE

&#8226 Protein increased.

&#8226 Consistent silage.

&#8226 Reduce concentrates.

Move lambs quickly

DEMAND for young, tender lamb means that it may pay to move lambs off the farm cheaply and quickly rather than hanging on until the price is right, says SACs John Vipond.

"Consumer demand is moving in the direction of young and tender lamb which cooks quickly or is suitable for ready meals," Dr Vipond explains.

Avoiding worm challenge is one of the key factors in optimising lamb growth for early finishing, he says. "Many producers have forgotten that even dosed lambs face a worm challenge, and only grow at three quarters of the rate of unchallenged lambs."

Dosing ewes with a long-acting wormer early in the season is one way to keep pastures clean. Monitoring lambs and faecal egg counts is also important.

Lamb growth rates can also be improved by maintaining short leafy swards of 4cm-6cm (1.5in-2.5in), relying on clover which gives better lamb performance in mid to late summer, and supplementing with cheap cereals, according to Dr Vipond. &#42

Shetland milk may lower cancer risk

PROTECTION against cancer and heart disease may be greater if you drink milk from Shetland cows.

An SAC/Shetland Cattle Society study shows that milk from Shetland cows has more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and a lower ratio of trans-fatty acids to CLA than Holstein Friesian milk. Both factors are thought to be important for improving human health.

More research is needed to confirm that the phenomenon is specific to the breed rather than dietary differences, says SAC. &#42