MGA steps to best use when feeding
MAKE the most of feeding maize by ensuring you grow enough, clamp it carefully and maximise use of cheap protein.
That is the message Gordon Newman, MGA maize feeding consultant, gave visitors to the National Forage Maize Day.
"The more maize you feed the better cows perform. We do not have to be confrontational about maize and grass. Grass also needs to be used well. But there is no universal right or wrong balance between maize and grass," said Mr Newman.
"However, maize is cheap to grow and feed, and offers enormous potential to cut costs. But we must not make maize feeding complicated."
Mr Newman believes maize silage is a better feed than grass silage. Even in this difficult year many producers have good maize crops.
"But you must let cows express their potential to milk from maize," he advised. That may mean feeding less concentrate. Any concentrate offered must be low in fibre, so avoid sunflower and palm kernal – either as straights or in compounds.
Rapemeal is undervalued as a complementary feed for maize and feeding urea is a nonsense when rape is about £80/t, he said.
"A 7000-litre cow can be fed rapemeal and soya in the same proportion as maize silage to other forages. So when maize and grass silage are fed at 3:1, rape and soya can be fed at 3:1, reducing concentrate costs."
But a 9000-litre cow on a similar proportion of maize must be fed less rapemeal as she is more sensitive to digestibility of the protein fed, he explained.
Maize can be fed ad lib with high quality forage or straw, supplemented with brewers grains, rapemeal, soya, fishmeal and minerals. Alternatively feed a compound, but ensure the fibre content is low.
Ensuring good maize silage quality is important, but avoid waiting for maize to mature, and harvest it when the milk is out of grain. Aim for a dry matter of 30%, chop it short and roll it well in the clamp. "Your neighbours tractor is the cheapest additive you can buy.
"Do not worry about a low starch analysis. Analysis is inaccurate and with wheat at about £60/t, starch can be provided at reasonable cost."
One option to increase starch content of maize silage is to add wheat to maize in the pit at harvest. Grains will be soft enough to feed when it is taken out, added. Mr Newman. *
• Feed less concentrate.
• Supplement with rape.
• Dont make feeding complicated.
Maize is cheap to grow and offers enormous potential to cut costs, but do not make make feeding complicated, Gordon Newman tells visitors.