Maize Forage Feed Quality - A Seasonal Snapshot
A simple review of maize forage (pre-silage) samples through the lab for feed quality tests this autumn, compared to the same period last year, shows some interesting trends. For all outdoor grown crops, the growing season has a significant impact on many of the feed quality parameters but this may be more noticeable in maize as heat is important for how the ear and kernels develop, and drought can cause accelerated dry-down of the stover.
The average values shown in Fig 1 indicate a slightly higher NDF and consequently lower Digestibility (DOMD) and ME than last year, along with a slightly lower average for Starch content. This data has not been analysed for statistical significance, and although not reported here, of note is the wide range of values across the data set. The range of observed results highlight the importance of using feed quality analysis over book values, as variation (between seasons, plant variety, management) is often quite large.
Sampling maize silage stacks just prior to feeding will therefore help with feed budgeting and getting the best use of this supplementary feed. Depending on conditions at harvest and the subsequent silage-making practices, the final silage product quality may not be what is assumed. Hill Laboratories has several Silage test options to select from and Feed Sampling Kits are readily available through our online ordering portal.
Fig 1. Average feed test results for Maize Forage (pre-silage) samples submitted to Hill Laboratories in Feb-April 2018 v 2019.