Clamp seals a win with full marks for wastage
This years maize silage
competition winner follows
carefully thought out
policies for clamping and
feeding maize on his mixed
farm. Jessica Buss was
one of the judges
WELL compacted and well sealed, with two side and two top sheets reducing top and shoulder waste to a minimum.
Thats how the judges of the MGA/FW/Midland Bank Maize Silage Competition found the winning clamp at Burleydam Farm, Whitchurch, Cheshire.
Richard Tomlinson takes out maize from the clamp – which was almost flat, no sinking sides – with a block cutter. Any spillage is picked up each day to reduce waste.
Before ensiling the maize, care is taken to eliminate side waste. To stop side sheets becoming stretched and holed because of rough edges on the pit wall and roof adjacent to the clamp, a gutter with smooth edges has been fitted to the roof and other rough edges removed.
"During clamp filling the contractor buck-raked maize in smooth thin layers. The farms 150hp tractor, used on the arable land, was used on the pit with front and rear weights, and the Manitou loader with extra weight, to roll the clamp," he says. Speed during ensiling was also important, with the 18ha (44 acres) of maize harvested and clamped in eight hours.
To reduce spoilage and waste in summer, the clamp, which has an open front and back, is sloped down at both ends. This means it will not be as deep when less is fed in the summer, explains Mr Tomlinson.
When it comes to growing the crop, he takes care to match variety to site to synchronise harvest dates.
"To harvest the crop on the same date, two varieties are selected for the two fields cropped as continuous maize. One field is on heavy clay land and one on lighter land." Neither field is eligible for arable aid but both are suitable for growing maize, unlike much of the farms heavy clay land which would be difficult to harvest in a wet season, he adds. Hudson and Nancis were grown last year; the later variety, Hudson, is grown on the better site.
Mr Tomlinson has only grown maize for the last three years, since he took over the management of the 140-cow herd. Although its predominantly Friesian, he has just began calving his first 50% Holstein heifers. Cows average 6955 litres, with 3970 litres from forage, with maize providing 70% of the forage dry matter in winter.
Mr Tomlinson expects forage dry matter intakes of 13.7kg from his high yielding cows. To allow heifers to eat as much as possible and continue growing, he has managed them in a separate group since November. To ensure forage intakes are high for the main herd the ration is put out once a day after any leftovers are swept up and fed to the lower yielding group.
"To supplement the total mixed ration a home-mix blend is fed in the parlour at 0.4kg/litre of milk to a maximum of 5-6kg. The home-mix is a low cost concentrate, produced mainly from crops grown on the farm," says Mr Tomlinson.
The home-mix includes beans, wheat and barley which are put through the farms grinder and mixed in the feeder wagon with soya and 1.5% molasses to stop dust. Feeding this blend with molasses has not caused any blockages in the parlour feeders, he says.
Late lactation cows are fed just 20% of their forage as maize silage to allow some maize to be saved for buffer feeding in summer.
Silage analysis results
DM % 37 30
D-value 74 72
ME 11.7 11.3
CP % 9 9
Starch % 33.4 30.9
Ammonia-N % 2 1.7
Cows 141 74
Stocking rate 2.15 2.02
Yield/cow (kg) 6995 6695
Yield from forage(kg) 3970 3993
Conc use: (kg/cow) 1446 1312
(kg/litre) 0.20 0.20
Conc cost £/cow 200 200
Margin over purchased feed:
(p/litre) 19.78 19.15
(£/cow) 1376 1282