Stuart Tracy, of Waratah Bay, VIC, uses corn silage as a high yielding dryland feed option for his dairy cows.
|Farm location:||Waratah Bay, VIC|
Dryland corn has provided high yields and feed options for dairy farmer Stuart Tracy, of Waratah Bay, in the South Gippsland region of Victoria.
Mr Tracy said they milked 700 cows from 240 hectares of land on the home block but also had an area seven kilometres away where they backgrounded young stock and used corn strategically to renovate pastures.
A perennial pasture would be rotated into a season of corn, followed by an annual ryegrass and another year of corn and then back to perennial pasture.
“We’ve grown corn for a number of years now,” Mr Tracy said. “We look at grain prices, the weather outlook, our need for fodder and starch and decide on what to plant.”
Corn is grown under dryland conditions, with in-crop rainfall playing a major role in the yields achieved each season.
“Sometimes we get 20 dry matter tonnes per hectare or more and sometimes we get 12 tonnes,” Mr Tracy said. “Even at 12 tonnes we estimate it is costing between $180 to $200 per dry matter tonne, which is cheaper than any other option.”
“It is a fantastic crop for water utilisation. The yield per available water is very good.”
Last season Pioneer® hybrid P9400 and Pioneer® hybrid P1467 were grown on the property and produced excellent yields.
Mr Tracy said the quicker P9400 had been used since they first started growing Pioneer corn and the longer-season P1467 replaced Pioneer® hybrid P1070 which had always performed well on the property.
“I was a bit nervous with the late sowing of P1467 but it went really well.”
Early November is the ideal time to plant corn in the region with the date dependent on weather conditions in the lead-up.
A planting rate of 85,000 seeds per hectare is used with the nutrition applied up-front.
Last season saw some rain in October prior to sowing and a dry period through to good rainfall in December and some follow-up at tasselling in January.
A total of 32 hectares was grown which provided carryover and fodder options from summer through until early spring.
Corn silage is typically used in a transition diet leading up to calving.
“We use it right through until the pastures are no longer limiting in the diet,” Mr Tracy said.
Silage inoculant was also used with Pioneer® brand 11C33 applied to the corn as it was being harvested.
“We want to ensure as little loss as possible in the ensiling and feeding out process,” Mr Tracy said. “When the face is exposed you want to minimise losses to oxidisation.”
He said when they first started using inoculant it was a brand that didn’t have the buchneri bacteria and there was a noticeable difference between it and the Pioneer inoculant that replaced it.
“We were definitely seeing more losses at the face. There is now a lot less heating and darkness.”
11C33 has Rapid React® aerobic stability technology provides stable feed in just seven days.
Mr Tracy said this proved to be a handy feature and they opened the pit after just two weeks to find the silage was well fermented and ready to use.
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