Maize is a multifunctional species. The crop can be silaged or harvested for grain. All of the maize harvested as fodder and a large proportion of grain maize (80%) is used for animal feed.
Fodder maize is the staple feed for dairy cattle herds throughout the year. It is an essential source of energy, although it needs to be supplemented with fibre and protein to cover herd needs. The quality of the fodder determines its palatability and its consumption by the animals.
It can be grown in all regions in Europe. The entire plant is harvested, with 32-33% whole plant dry matter, using a silage harvester. The stems, leaves, stalks and grains are then crushed, compacted and covered with an airtight tarpaulin to ensure good conservation of the fodder and to avoid the development of micro-organisms that could degrade the organic matter and cause health problems for the animals.
Wet grain maize
Animals can also consume wet maize grains, especially animals for fattening (bullocks, pigs and poultry).
This wet grain is particularly rich in starch, which the animals digest more slowly than other types of cereals. It must be harvested before the dry grain maize. The target should be a moisture content of 26-32%.
Using wet grain maize to feed the herd saves the farmer drying costs.
Dry grain maize
Dry grain maize harvested as grains or on the cob is also used for nutrition. Almost three-quarters of the maize grain produced is consumed directly by animals, mainly poultry and pigs. It must be dried after harvesting. It is then distributed directly to the animals. It is valued for its energy content, its high starch content and the oil in the maize germ. This dry maize grain is also used by feed manufacturers. It is then ground and mixed with other raw materials and distributed in the form of flour or granules.