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Maize feed value - harvest at the correct time to maximise nutritional value


Wherever it is grown, maize requires attention to detail. Field tests will determine the correct time to harvest, while consolidation and sealing at the clamp will produce a high quality feed.

Animals fed rations containing maize silage have a higher dry matter intake than those fed rations solely on grass silage.

The extra DMI leads to higher energy intakes and when offered as part of a balanced diet will improve daily performance and feed efficiency.

Afbeelding: Maize Harvest

Maize silage feed characteristics:

  • High energy, high starch
  • Digestible cell wall material
  • Palatable
  • Consistent feed value
  • Low protein content so should be fed with reasonably high protein feeds.


The total energy yield of a crop and the relative proportions of energy will vary depending on the variety grown, the quality of the standing crop and the stage of maturity at harvest.

The digestibility of maize remains fairly consistent throughout the growing season. As the crop matures, the quality of stem and leaf declines, but this is offset by the increase in grain in the cob, which is highly digestible and high in starch. Harvesting at the correct stage is essential to maxmise nutritional value.

Sampling of maize throughout the feeding season is critical as the feed value will continue to change in the months after harvest.

Factors affecting yield and feeding value of maize silage:

Afbeelding: Factor affecting Maize yield

Effects of harvesting too early:

  • Lower yield
  • Reduced energy, starch and ME which result in lower intake potential
  • Higher risk of clamp effluent which will require a longer chop length
  • Poor dry matter intake and palatability resulting in acidic silage

Effects of late harvesting:

  • Increased harvesting costs and field losses
  • Low digestibility and palatability
  • Excessive dry matter and poor clamp stability
  • Difficult clamp consolidation which will require a shorter chop length
  • Soil damage and compaction

For more information

For further information on maximising your maize please contact your local ForFarmers Forage Specialist or send us an online enquiry here.