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Cattle and Crop Farmers Could Benefit from Joint Maize Venture

24 April 2013

EU - Cereal growers faced with difficulties sourcing combinable spring cropseed should look at joining forces with beef and dairy farmers to grow forage maize crops, according to breeder Caussade Semences.

Robin Turner, the company’s maize specialist, points out that, with the poor winter drilling conditions and a lack of spring seed having so far prevented many arable farmers from drilling anything on large areas of land.

With many livestock farms already anticipating being short of grass for silage due to the cold weather the two parties could each gain a great deal from collaborating on crop growing.

“Arable farmers with the right land and rotations, and who have a willing nearby buyer, would do well to consider collaborating to grow a forage maize crop,” he suggests.

“Such a move could benefit both parties. The livestock farmer gains from alleviating a likely winter forage shortage and providing some buffer from high supplementary feed prices, while the arable grower benefits from a crop that creates a break from cereals or oilseed rape and provides an alternative to the no-income possibility of enforced fallowing.

And, contrary to what some might think, varieties such as Duo CS Maize can be taken off in a September harvest before full maturity without detriment to feed value, while helping to get arable rotations back on track. In addition, there's a lot of interest from both dairy and beef farmer in Duo because of its combination of two seed types that provide a blend of slow and fast release energy.”

Maize generally suits all but the heaviest land, and while earlier drilling aids growth and harvest timing, maize can be sown at any point from when temperatures exceed 10C for three to four consecutive nights, right up to the end of May, says Dr Turner.

“After a winter where poor grass silage has affected cattle performance on many dairy and beef units, the effect of forage quality on rumen health and consistency of production has come under particularly close scrutiny,” he points out.

“While the harvesting and clamping may be left to a contractor, careful variety selection, along with professional agronomy advice, will be central to ensuring both livestock and arable producer achieve the results they expect from such collaboration.”

TheCattleSite News Desk

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