In­creas­ing milk pro­duc­tion cru­cial

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

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)

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