High harvest DM pays off

6 March 1998

High harvest DM pays off

HARVESTING maize at the optimum dry matter of 30% is worth an extra 2.9 litres of milk for no extra production cost.

Analysing the results of maize maturity research at CEDAR, University of Reading, Hampshire farm manager Norman Light told the MGA conference that cows perform best off maize when it is harvested at 30% DM.

The Milk Development Council, MGA and Johnsons Seeds funded study found that forage intakes and milk yields were lower at 25% DM, and at 38% DM and above, when digestibility is lower.

Maize harvested at above 25% DM improved forage intakes and milk yield – with an extra 3.6 litres a cow a day produced just by increasing the DM of maize from 25% to 30%, he explained.

When DM increased to 38%, daily yields fell by 2.2 litres.

"This shows the importance of getting the harvesting done at the right time," said Mr Light.

Maize silage harvested at 30% DM instead of 25% or 38% is worth on average an extra 2.9 litres a cow a day of milk, at no extra production cost, he said. Thats an extra 58p/day.

Allowing for quota leasing at 10p/litre, that leaves an extra 29p a cow a day profit – on 100 cows that is £29/day and over a 200-day winter, £5800 more profit.

Clamp management would also be easier at 30% DM, said Mr Light. "Its easier to chop, roll and compact in the clamp – and could save on the cost of additive."

Predicting when to harvest the crop at 30-32% DM will, however, be more difficult. "I like to give the contractor two weeks notice of when I want him to start – if he cant make it at the right time, Ill have to find someone who can."

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