The effects of maturity of maize at harvest, level of inclusion and potential interactions on the performance, carcass composition, meat quality and potential concentrate-sparing effect when offered to finishing beef cattle were studied. Two maize silages were ensiled that had dry matter (DM) concentrations of 217 and 304 g/kg and starch concentrations of 55 and 258 g/kg DM, respectively. Grass silage was offered as the sole forage supplemented with either 4 or 8 kg concentrate/steer daily or in addition with one of the two maize silages at a ratio 0.5 : 0.5, on a DM basis, maize silage : grass silage supplemented with 4 kg concentrate daily. The two maize silages were also offered as the sole forage supplemented with 4 kg concentrate/steer daily. The forages were offered ad libitum. The six diets were offered to 72 steers (initial live weight 522 s.d. 23.5 kg) for 146 days. There were significant interactions (P < 0.05) between maize maturity and inclusion level for food intake, fibre digestibility and daily gain. For the grass silage supplemented with 4 or 8 kg concentrate, and the maize silages with DM concentrations of 217 and 304 g/kg offered as 0.5 or 1.0 of the forage component of the diet, total DM intakes were 8.3, 9.8, 8.9, 8.2, 9.2 and 9.8 kg DM/day (s.e. 0.27); live-weight gains were 0.74, 1.17, 0.86, 0.71, 0.88 and 1.03 kg/day (s.e. 0.057); and carcass gains were 0.48, 0.73, 0.56, 0.46, 0.56 and 0.63 kg/day (s.e. 0.037), respectively. Increasing the level of concentrate (offered with grass silage), maize maturity and level of maize inclusion reduced (P < 0.05) fat b* (yellowness). The potential daily concentrate-sparing effect, as determined by carcass gain, for the maize silages with DM concentrations of 217 and 304 g/kg offered as 0.5 and 1.0 of the forage component of the diet were 1.3, −0.3, 1.3 and 2.4 kg fresh weight, respectively. It is concluded that the response, in animal performance, including maize silage is dependent on the stage of maturity and level of inclusion in the diet. Maize silage with a DM of 304 g/kg offered ad libitum increased carcass gain by 31%, because of a combination of increased metabolizable energy (ME) intake and improved efficiency of utilization of ME, and produced carcasses with whiter fat.