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Maximise Your Maize Potential

14 Sep 2016


Maximise Your Maize Potential

This has considerable value for livestock to increase performance and to reduce purchased feed costs. The proportion of that potential available nutrient utilised on farm will vary enormously, depending on the harvesting and preservation of the maize.

Harvesting maize is often a compromise between waiting for the crop to be fully ripe and getting the field cleared before the onset of bad weather, so following crops can be planted and soil damage
minimised. The month before harvest is when most of the starch is formed in the grain, so harvesting too early or an incidence of eyespot disease can reduce dry matter yield and starch content
considerably. Aim to harvest at 32% to 35% dry matter, when the grain is at the ‘hard cheese’ stage. Harvesting too late can result in hard grains which are more difficult to digest and a greater
opportunity for potentially harmful yeasts and moulds to form on the leaves of the maize. In a worst case scenario this could result in aerobic spoilage in the clamp, mycotoxins and heating or
energy loss in the ration.

The clamp
Good clamp preparation and filling are key to maximising maize energy capture. Ideally use a narrow clamp to ensure rapid feed out and sheet the walls with a large overlap, to ensure a good seal with
the top sheet.

On 32% to 35% dry matter maize, a chop length of 1.5 cm is recommended to help consolidation. Good consolidation can reduce dry matter losses by 10%. Fill the clamp evenly and
in long, thin layers, spreading no more than 15 cm of fresh material in each, as consolidation is less effective with thicker layers. Roll continuously with extra attention to the shoulders.
Cover the clamp with a dual layer of standard clamp sheeting, using a bottom sheet of ‘clingfi lm’. This sucks down onto the surface of the clamp and provides an excellent airtight barrier.
Cover the sheets with a heavy woven cover, plus gravel bags or tyres to weigh it down.

Maximising maize energy
Bacteria naturally present on maize will ensure fermentation takes place without an additive. However, just as we use good bacteria to make cheese from milk, it is much better to control the
fermentation by inoculating the clamp with a proven maize additive. Products such as Mole Maize or Ecosyl’s Double Action Ecocorn will significantly increase energy capture in the maize silage by
introducing selected strains of bacteria. Mould and yeast inhibitors will increase the speed of fermentation and reduce energy losses.

Virtually all contractors are now geared up to use additives, so it’s really a matter of selecting a proven product to preserve the crop for the optimum feed value and livestock intakes. Not using an
additive will increase your overall feed costs.




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