Maize is economic alterative to grass silage
MAIZE, with its superior starch content, offers an economic alternative to grass silage for beef finishing, reducing liveweight gain costs by 49p/kg, according to a recent study conducted at the University of Reading.
In the project, Simmental cross Holstein steers were fed maize or grass silage for the last 100kg of finishing, says the MLCs Duncan Pullar. "The project aimed to explore how beef finishing costs could be reduced."
The two diets were balanced with a mix of soya and rapeseed meal to give a crude protein content of 15%. Daily intakes were 8.3kg DM/head on the grass silage diet compared with 9.8kg DM/head for maize silage. Growth rates were 0.92kg/day on the grass silage, but rose to 1.26kg/day for steers on maize silage.
"Maize has a high starch component, more comparable with cereals than grass, which boosted performance of steers on the maize diet. Cost/kg of liveweight gain was £1.40 for the grass silage diet compared with 91p for the maize-based diet.
"The nutritional value of maize is already well understood in the dairy world and this knowledge is beginning to spill over into beef production," he adds.
Where maize can be grown, its energy yield/unit area is comparable with cereals, he says. "Now the 90-head limit has ended, we may see consolidation of finishing units with larger numbers of cattle/unit. Maize could form an economic component of diets for these systems." *