When fed alongside more rapidly fermentable starch sources, maize silage can help in providing the right balance of rumen fermentable carbohydrates to aid muscle growth and fi nish cattle. Maize provides one of the best forms of starch available to the beast, being of high quality and more stable in the rumen than wheat, for example. Starch yield needs to be maximised, without compromising plant digestibility, as yield is equally provided from both the cob and plant biomass. It is essential for the crop to fully mature before senescence.

Management Practice

Management such as site choice, seedbed preparation and variety choice have huge infl uences on profi tability of
the crop. Success needs to be determined by recorded yield and sample quality, not just producing the tallest plant possible. Crops should achieve 30% starch, 30% DM with a mature plant as well as achieving good digestibility. In addition to looking at best management practices, it is also essential to gain an accurate nutritional analysis of the forage silage as this is vital when formulating rations. This will ensure that silage is used accurately and eff ectively, in order to make sure the ration is boosting performance and is cost-eff ective. Analysis can be carried out for up to six weeks after harvesting the crop and I would always advise testing a number of samples from the clamp. I would also suggest testing samples from the clamp face throughout
the feeding period as the nutritional value can continue to change during this time.

Making Margins

Varieties are evolving to provide near optimal crops on marginal sites and with the development of maize under plastic systems, forage quality can be maintained on the most marginal sites. Wherever the site, management must be entirely focused on getting a quality feed, making it cost effective to grow, optimising cattle performance and improve on farm feed margins.

"When fed alongside more rapidly fermentable starch sources, maize silage can help in providing the right balance of rumen fermentable carbohydrates to aid muscle growth and finish cattle."

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