No milk increase after feeding maize silage,find out why


Maize silage has of late become the major component in the ration of dairy cows over the last few decades.

Because of the increasing reliance on maize as a dairy cow feed, more commercial fodder companies have emerged to fill the demand caused by this reliance. Thus, it is important to quantify the variation in its nutritive value and identify the causes of this variation as well as to understand the effect of maize silage quality on the production performance of dairy cows.    

In this article, we explain in detail how to make silage from planting to feeding. The various types of silage and crops used. We shall also look at the effect it has on milk quantity as well as quality.

Among many crops used in silage making; corn, millet, sorghum and glass (Napier) are the most common. The quantity of silage per acre depends on the variety and plant population. Are the seeds used hybrids or not. In the case of corn, tall hybrid varieties produce more quantity per acre as compared to short ones in the same seed rate.

Do you know that you can have a good silage by the look but in real sense its of low quality? Simply because of harvesting stage.

In our case, we are going to use corn as an example. When it comes to silage, planting methods changes from the normal maize farming for subsistence or commercial use. For maximum quantity per acre, spacing is reduced from the normal  75cm by 25cm to 45cm by 25cm. DAP fertilizer is used for planting. UREA is applied from the 21st day and later repeated after two weeks. Proper weeding should be done as well. 10ml of thunder in 20litre of water is sprayed from the 21st day to prevent stock borers

Read:“Bad Feeds” The Silent Killer

The stage of harvesting is another factor that affects the quality of silage. Not too wet neither too dry. A lot of studies have shown that an increasing maturity of silage maize at harvest has a major effect on dry matter intake DMI, milk yield and milk protein content.

Data shows that the lowest dry matter intake, milk yield and milk protein content were obtained when maize silages were harvested and ensiled at a very early stage. That is, dry matter less than 250gms per kilogram. At this stage, the maize is still young and the grains are not well developed.

The Dry matter intake, milk and protein yield increased with advancing maturity reaching an optimum level of silages, ensiled at a dry matter content of 300-350 grams per kilogram and then declined slightly at further maturity, beyond 350grams per kilogram.

This shows that if you harvest maize at the wrong stage and prepare it correctly you won’t get optimal results. For better results, the harvesting stage is the important thing followed by the preparation process.

I know you are asking yourself, what is dry matter? According to dairexnet, Dry matter refers to material remaining after removal of water, and the moisture content reflects the amount of water present in the feed ingredient. The nutrients in feeds, required by the animal for maintenance, growth, pregnancy, and lactation, are part of the DM portion of the feed.

How to make silage

The chopping size should be 1-1.5cm. Longer chop length decreases the dry matter intake due to rumen fill while extreme short chop length may decrease digestibility due to an increased rate of passage of the digesta. A good chop length improves digestibility because of increased microbial attachment sites.

For silage above the ground
  1. Select  a higher dry ground  where flooding doesn’t occur
  2. Place two layers of plastic polythene 
  3. Place a 15-30cm layer of the chopped forage on the centre leaving a space on the sides for folding
  4. Compact the material with a 200 litres drum to remove any air. If poor compaction is done, moulds form first then lotting.
  5. Dilute molasses with water in the ratio of 1: 3. One litre of molasses  with 3 litres of water and sprinkle it evenly on the compacted silage
  6. Repeat steps 3,4 and 5 until the fodder is finished.
  7. Fold over the edges of the polythene. Cover the silo with polythene and add about 15cm layer of soil.
  8. Leave the silage for six weeks before feeding
  9. Silage bunker should not be too wide nor too high as feeding speed has to be at least 1m to 1.5m per week to minimize losses that result from heating.
For plastic tube silage
  1. Chopping size and molasses dilution is the same as ground one
  2. Pre-mix the foliage with molasses first then deposit it in an airtight bag in small bits while compacting to remove any air.
  3. Then tie one end of 2.5m plastic bag with a thickness of 150-200microns
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the fodder is over

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After six weeks

The silages should

  1. Clean look and non-foul smell
  2. Yellow to golden colour

To minimize labour, silage should be close to the farm

How to feed

The inclusion of maize silages in grass-based diets such as Napier and brancharia grass; hay and dairy meal increased milk yield significantly. A cow in early lactating (first 100days) producing more than 20litres per can be feed with the following ratios.

  • 23 kgs of silage
  • 1 kgs of dry boma rodhes hay
  • 5 kgs Napier fresh mature
  • 12 kgs of high yield dairy meal

While one doing less than 20litres per day can be feed with

  • 23kgs of silage
  • 1kgs of dry boma rodhes hay
  • 5kgs Napier fresh mature
  • 7kgs of high yield dairy meal
Will it work?

The efficacy of good silage will depend on which stage your cow is in and the quality of the dairy meal.

In the early lactating (first 100 days) stage, a steady increase is observed.

The milk increase, decrease as we move down the curve to mid lactating (101-255 days), late lactating (256-305 days). So before feeding your cow, know its stage.

Similar results of milk increase are exhibited with dairy goats.

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All technical advice and/or production guidelines given by FARMWORX.CO.KE or any of its personnel with reference to the use of the recommended products and services is based on the company’s best judgment. However, it must be expressly understood that FARMWORX.CO.KE does not assume responsibility for any advice given or for the results obtained as it depends on various agro-climate and soil conditions under which it is cultivated.

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