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Growing maize for silage? Get the latest advice and top tips

The high energy and starch content of forage maize make it a highly valuable silage. But it’s also one of your riskiest forages in terms of preserving it. To help you get the most from your maize silage, we have launched our dedicated maize silage advice area over at Cut to Clamp. 

Maize

Improving your maize silage

With its two opponents knocking on the door of: 1. Aerobic spoilage (heating) caused by yeasts and moulds in the presence of air; and 2. Risks to fermentation, especially when making greener, moister maize silage – it only takes one slip of management to significantly reduce the feed quality of your maize silage, or the tonnes of dry matter (DM) in your clamp.

Indeed, results from two years of surveys of UK dairy farms* suggest there is huge scope for improving how maize silage is made.

Preservation of maize silage

When planning your maize harvest, make sure you take the importance of good preservation into account, and that your contractor is lined up for your anticipated harvest date and has the appropriate additive.

If growing modern, ‘stay green’ varieties, they should not have died off (or dried off) by the time they are harvested.

For good quality silage at an acceptable yield, cut just before heading.

Similarly, although it might be tempting to cut low as this increases yield, the stem base is the part of the plant with the lowest digestibility. So again, overall quality will be improved by cutting higher.

On top of that, dead material in the sward base contains higher levels of undesirable micro-organisms that hinder fermentation and increase aerobic spoilage.

And cutting too low increases the risk of introducing soil micro-organisms, such as clostridia, into silage, increasing the risk of a poor fermentation and reducing it's feed value, or even potentially contaminating with listeria.

Maize silage advice from Cut to Clamp

Want to know more? We want to help you make sure you get the most from your maize silage. Which is why we have launched a dedicated new website area over at Cut to Clamp, which provides all the latest expert advice and top tips on; Planning, Harvesting, TreatingClamping and Feeding

We have also produced a handy guide for you to download so you can have all the advice at your fingertips!

Download Cut to Clamp guide

Head on over to Cut to Clamp now and check out these brand new resources.

*Source: Ecosyl survey of UK dairy farmers growing forage maize, 2017