The autumn maize harvest is now well under way, and with potentially challenging weather conditions, it is important to consider all the options available from this crop. Maize silage is an important forage, but the potential benefits of harvesting some of the crop for crimped grain maize silage should be considered. Early maturing maize Pioneer varieties P7326, P7034 and P7948 allow maize to be used as a concentrate as well as a forage.
During the crimping process, the starch in freshly harvested moist maize grain is exposed, providing a high energy source of by-pass starch for ruminants. Due to its structure, more of the starch passes into the hind gut and there is a lower rate of starch digestion in the rumen. This helps to reduce the pH drop in the rumen and the risk of acidosis, which is often caused by rapidly digested cereals such as wheat and barley.
With a typical analysis of 70% dry matter, 10% crude protein and an ME of 14 MJ/KG, this option should not be overlooked as a high energy feed. Although higher feed energy levels can be achieved with crimped maize silage, it should be used as an alternative to expensive concentrate costs but not to replace forage in the ration.
Not only does crimped maize silage offer nutritional value to a ration, the harvesting window is more flexible. This can be particularly useful if heavy rains are forcing harvest before the maize is quite ready. Moving ensiled crimped maize in bulk can be successful if the original fermentation occurred well and the crimped silage is stable, giving the additional option of being able to sell the silage or transport to another farm.
Good quality crimped maize silage can be achieved by creating a clean, airtight environment in a concrete silage pit. A good fermentation process will not be achieved if the silage has been contaminated by a dirty pit, or if there is poor consolidation and the presence of air. A finer crimp rather than a course crimp will reduce movement within the pit, this will help to achieve a better consolidation. Remember that the high dry matter of the maize grain can allow undesirable yeasts and molds to grow and cause spoilage.
Considering the nutritional value of the crimped maize silage, adding a silage inoculant to enhance the fermentation process and ensure aerobic stability is an important step in the ensiling process. Pioneer brand 11A44 will dramatically reduce heating within the silage pit. Shown to decrease yeasts and moulds to just 0.1% of untreated control silage, this product will improve fermentation and reduce dry matter losses when used on crimped maize at less than 65% dry matter.
In circumstances where a quick feed out is needed, our crimped grain maize inoculant 11B91 Rapid React containing Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus buchneri will give the rapid drop in pH and the aerobic stability to allow feed out as soon as 7 days. The Lactobacillus plantarum in 11B91 RR will also ensure a faster and more efficient acid fermentation than that achieved when using 11A44.