Raise gross margins by growing your own maize

UK - The total acreage of maize grown by beef farmers could dwarf that of the dairy industry in the next 10 years, according to a recent report by a leading independent beef consultant.
calendar icon 23 February 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
Economic, nutritional and environmental factors point to more farmers including maize in forage rotations. Producing home-grown maize could increase gross margins by up to £70 a head through a combination of higher dry matter intake, better feed conversion efficiency and higher rates of liveweight gain, reckons the report's author, David Hendy.

"High levels of digestible fibre, ease of production and cost effectiveness in terms of units of energy produced means maize silage can be used as a feed for rearing, growing and finishing cattle, both on its own or used in combination with grass silage, whole crop and a number of different forages," says Mr Hendy.

And for those wishing to fulfil their ethical obligations, there are considerably greater environmental benefits to growing maize over grass.

"The predicted change in climate by 1C will, it is expected, allow the whole of the UK the growing conditions for maize establishment, particularly with new hardier varieties.

'Lower costs'

"Maize out-performs and out-yields all other forages on a drymatter and energy cost/ha basis," he reckons. "And the lower costs associated with maize silage mean savings of £20-25 a head can be made during winter feeding."

Research indicates that dry matter intakes between grass and maize silage differ due to dry matter intake as a percentage bodyweight, explains Mr Hendy. "With grass silage of 26.5% DM and maize of 30% DM, dry matter intake/day measured 5% higher for maize when fed to steers and 13% higher when fed to heifers, resulting in heavier carcass weights and increased feed conversion efficiency. When coupled with the reduce variable costs for maize, the boost in gross margins was £69 a head for steers and £59 a head for heifers. "

Source: Farmers Weekly Interactive
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