Maize silage performance

The 2023 maize silage season has yielded good volume, but the performance of that silage is disappointing according to extensive analysis by ForFarmers forage experts.

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ForFarmers Product Manager Bruce Forshaw explained that on the surface maize silage results for 2023 don’t look too different compared to 2022, however when scrutinised in more detail some important differences emerge.

“Comparing our customers’ maize silages for 2023 to 2022, overall dry matter is slightly higher for 2023 but MELK – the energy available for milk production – is lower.

“The figure for rapidly fermentable carbohydrates – or RFC – is also lower for 2023 and with a higher fibre content this is leading to a lower acid load. Overall pH is slightly higher for 2023 too which generally means that silage could be less stable,” he continued. “Meanwhile lactic acid is lower, which isn’t ideal either as it helps to aid the fermentation process and the aerobic stability of the silage.

“The starch in maize is often more available in the rumen after Christmas as it has been in the clamp for a few months. But it’s important to remember this year that the level of bypass starch was higher to start with, so in effect, we are starting further back and diets may still benefit from different sources of RFC in the diet.

“In summary results are showing good volume but their performance in the rumen is slow,” he concluded. “As always, our advice to farmers is to have their individual silages analysed so that rations can be tailor-made to avoid and nutritional deficiencies or overfeeding.”

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