There is less dry matter loss from maize silage, but some important points are required if you are to maximise its potential.
When to Cut?
Target dry matter between 30-35%. A crop 5 weeks from maturity increases in dry matter by about 2.5% each week, therefore a crop at 25% dry matter should be ready in about 3 weeks. To establish the correct dry matter, perform an oven test (see article in this month’s Newsletter later). The optimum cob ripeness is where the cob is hard-cheesy in the bottom half and a soft cheesy consistency in the top half. Chop length needs to be between 17-22mm to ensure sufficient length, good consolidation and to avoid cow sorting. Contractors need to be consulted on the whole process for a beneficial arrangement for all parties, remember that shorter chop lengths require more fuel!
Care must be taken with stay green varieties because the cob can be ready when the plant is not, this will influence the dry matter and could result in excessive acid loading, which then needs to be rectified in the ration. A golden rule after the first silage trailer arrives is to check the amount of corn cracked, a minimum of 90%+ needs to be achieved. Later cow muck is a good indicator of cracked kernel with only the “pericarp” (outer shell) visible in the muck.
Finally, maize fibre needs to be cleanly cut to aid bacterial fermentation, which requires that chopping blades are sharp and the shear bar is correctly set. Additives should be considered especially relating to feed out.
To ensure that you are using maize efficiently in your livestock diets, contact Wesley at firstname.lastname@example.org or your local FCG Office.