Maize silage is maize grain attached to a digestible grass, and is a nutritive energy source. Both components – maize and grass – are important to silage quality.
“Maize grain provides about 65% of the energy found in maize silage. It’s therefore beneficial to achieve as much grain yield as possible from a silage maize crop because this will increase the energy-rich starch component in the silage,” says Grant Pringle, agronomist at Panner Seed.
He adds that the grass component of silage maize is high in fibre, which influences the maize silage energy density and a cow’s dry matter (DM) intake. It can also improve rumen health via mat density and cud chewing.
In a worst-case scenario, maize silage is a DM store, a palatable source of roughage, and a carrier of concentrate feed that can be mixed into it. In a best-case scenario, it can act as a concentrate feed containing appreciable levels of starch in a highly digestible form, together with effective roughage and protein.
This allows a dairy manager to cut back on more expensive additional feed inputs.
“What silage managers need to do is influence production to improve it from the worst-case to the best-case scenario.”