Increasing milk production crucial
To survive and thrive into the future, New Zealand dairy farm systems must be profitable and sustainable as well as globally competitive.
Our dairy land is expensive compared to farm land prices overseas. Increasing milk production per hectare is a key to profitability and the long term competitiveness of the dairy industry. Maize silage is the supplement of choice for New Zealand farmers because it:
Is cost-effective. Many New Zealand farmers can grow crops of maize for silage yielding 18 – 26 tDM/ ha on-farm or a run-off for 15 - 22 c/kgDM (in the stack).
Increases drymatter yields. Maize allows farmers to maximise the return from their high value dairy land by harvesting more drymatter from every hectare. A replicated, two-year forage production trial conducted in the Waikato showed maize silage followed by a winter crop could produce an annual drymatter yield of more than 38 tDM/ha.
Increases milk protein percentage. When cows are fed a starch or sugar-based supplement more of the additional milksolids they produce is protein and lactose. When cows are fed a fibre-based supplement, more of the additional milksolids is fat. Since milk protein is generally worth two or three times more than milk fat, starch-based supplements such as maize silage will generate a higher milk revenue per kgDM fed than fibre based supplements such as grass silage or palm kernel.
Lifts milk production levels. Maize silage can be used to fill feed deficits throughout the season, lifting milk production. Feeding maize silage in the autumn increases the number of cow milking days while at the same time ensuring pasture cover and cow condition score targets are met.
Improves run-off efficiency. Growing maize silage can help increase the drymatter production from run-offs. An analysis by Scott Ridsdale (DairyNZ) showed a partially cropped run-off growing maize silage could harvest 86 per cent more drymatter than a traditional pasture-based run-off.
Assists with pasture renewal. Growing maize silage as part of a pasture renewal programme can help improve pasture persistence by reducing the level of weeds, insect pests and carryover ryegrass seed. The combination of maize silage and a welldesigned stand-off pad with feeding facilities allows farmers to keep cows off wet pastures decreasing pugging damage and subsequent losses in pasture production without compromising milk production or animal welfare.
Decreases the build-up of soil nutrients. Increased stocking rates and more bought-in supplements contribute to an increase in soil nutrient levels. This has been implicated in a rising incidence of milk fever and grass staggers on some farms. Maize crops produce high drymatter yields and require high levels of nutrients, especially nitrogen and potassium. The benefits of growing maize silage on high fertility dairy land are two-fold; a reduction in soil nutrient levels as well as high yields of low cost maize silage.
To request your free, no obligation Forage Specialist visit call 0800 PIONEER (0800 746 633)