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Maize silage: A reliable and nutritious feed

Maize silage: A reliable and nutritious feed

Maize silage: A reliable and nutritious feed

Gregory Dorn relies upon Pioneer® brand maize silage to get the most out of his high-producing Holstein herd, and he can count on his local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative for helpful advice.

Greg, who runs Lowland Holsteins, milks 180 cows on 74 effective hectares in the southern Manawatu. In the 2020-21 season, his split calving herd produced 88,500 kg of milk solids (491 kg of milk solids per cow).

Greg’s success is partly due to feeding the cows well throughout the year. Each year he feeds around 200 to 250 tonnes of Dry Matter (tDM) of which about half is grown on farm and the balance is purchased from a local contract grower.

“This year we have six hectares of Pioneer® brand P9400 in the ground,” says Greg. “We mainly plant it into effluent paddocks, but we also use the tanker to spread slurry onto any other paddocks we want to plant.”

Greg does the crop groundwork himself, planting the maize crop around 20 October. Cropping paddocks are soil tested each year to determine an appropriate fertiliser regime.

Local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative, Richard Templeton, and Pioneer Area Manager, Matt Dalley, help to keep an eye on the crop.
“It is great to have more than one set of eyes looking over the crop,” says Greg. “Richard advises me on growing the crop and he is great at monitoring it when it gets close to harvest and letting me know when I should chop it.”

Richard identified that slugs were a potential hazard for Greg’s maize crop and the resulting advice to use slug bait has helped ensure good plant establishment and reliable yields.

The maize crop typically yields 20 to 22 tDM per hectare at harvest in March. It is fed out from April to January most years, but Greg would feed it year-round if he could.

“It would be great to have enough to get us right through the year but, depending on the weather, we usually run out a couple of months before the new crop is harvested.”

Maize silage is fed at a rate of 2 to 3 kg of DM per cow per day through a Keenan mixer wagon as part of a ration which can also include lucerne silage (grown on a sand country block nearby), maize grain, dried distillers grain and palm kernel extract.

“We use maize silage as a base for the ration and to help bind the rest of the ingredients together,” says Greg. “Minerals mix evenly into maize silage and that’s another advantage for us.”

To keep the labour requirement down, Greg does a single feed mix each day. Feed bins are filled in the afternoon and cows come onto the pad prior to milking. They clean up the remainder of the mix the next morning.

“Maize silage is just a great feed, quick to load into the wagon, fast to feed-out and there is no wastage.”

To learn more about the benefits of feeding your dairy herd Pioneer® brand maize silage, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.