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Maize Silage

A maize crop cut and preserved in a stack or a pit by the normal ensiling process. It is fed to dairy cattle as a supplementary feed.

Interpreting maize silage analysis

Factors Quality of fermentation (typical range) Interpretation
pH 3.7-4.2 pH higher than 4.0 may be due to the silage being very high DM (.42%) or the silage has had considerable aerobic exposure.
Ammonia N (% total N) 5-7 High value (>12%) is the result of high protein breakdown. Note: maize silage has low crude protein (8%) i.e. less crude protein available to be degraded.
Lactic acid (% DM) 4-7 High concentrations indicate well preserved silage. low values may indicate restricted fermentation due to high DM or after considerable aerobic exposure.
Acetic acid (% DM) 1-3 High concentrations are often found with very wet silage (<25% DM) or due to loose packing. Silage treated with inoculant containing l. buchneri show higher levels of acetic acid; this should not be mistaken for poorly preserved silage.

Time to ensile (days to when can be fed out)

Silage type % DM Days to ensile with inoculant Days to ensile without inoculant
Maize 30-40 3-4 7
Whole crop cereal 32-45 3-4 7

Note: Need to use crop specific inoculant i.e. maize inoculant. Lower the DM the quicker to ensile but more risk of low quality silage (compost). Higher the sugar content the quicker to ensile.

Mineral additives to maize silage

Use the following mineral supplementation guidelines when 25-40% of the DM intake is maize silage. Contact an animal nutritionist to get recommendations when maize is more than 40% of the diet.

Amount of each mineral supplement (g/cow/day) to include when feeding different amounts of maize silage to a lactation cow

Maize eaten - kg DM Limeflour (g/cow/day) CausMag (g/cow/day) AgSalt (g/cow/day) Dicalcium Phosphate (g/cow/day)
Less than 3kg 60 40 15 20
3-5kg 70 45 25 35
5-8kg 80 45 40 55

Amount of each mineral supplement (g/cow/day) to include when feeding different amounts of maize silage to a dry  cow (last 3 weeks)

Maize eaten - kg DM Limeflour (g/cow/day) CausMag (g/cow/day) AgSalt (g/cow/day) Dicalcium Phosphate (g/cow/day)
Less than 3kg 0 60 0 0
3-5kg 0 60 15 0

For further information refer to: