Silage Making for Farm Animals
Silage making is one of the grass preparation method similar to like Gundruk making process in our countryside (rural) area. Harvesting of succulent grass/fodder at green stage and fermenting it with micro-organisms in absence of oxygen to preserve them is principle of silage making and preserved matter is called silage. By fermenting grass in this way, it can be stored for longer period of time.
Benefits of Silage:
- Surplus grass can be preserved and feed to animals during the shortage period.
- With comparison to hay, more nutrients are preserved in this method and animal prefer silage over hay.
- All types of grass/fodder can be used for silage making whereas succulent stem having grasses are more efficient.
- High productive animals which need TMR for feeding needs silage as raw material for making TMR and feed them.
- Grasses used for silage making has higher productivity per unit area like Napier, Maize, sorghum, Junelo etc.
For the successful silage preparing, following process should be followed.
- Cutting green grasses
- Wilting the grasses
- Chemical treatments
- Filling in silo
- Sealing the pit
Cutting of Green Grass:
When the grass crop reaches their flowering stage, harvesting is done at this stage for silage making. Cutting is done specially in the morning.
The cut tender and green grass generally consists of 80-90% moisture or water content. Wilting is necessary for 4-5 hours in bright sunlight before filling in the silo (Pit where silage is fermented). When the crop/grass is filled in the silo the required moisture at this stage is 65% i.e. dry matter content should be 35%.
For better filling of grass in the silo without air gap or void area, chopping of grass is carried out before filling in the silo. By this technique, high quality silage can be prepared and fermentation is better in the process. Cut piece of grass is made 4-5 cm long only which facilitate the mixing of microorganisms in the mixture easily and faster.
For preparing silage different chemicals like molasses can be used. When molasses is used, it is used at 2% of total amount of grass applied in the silo and 0.5% lime if it is used instead which helps in higher quality of silage and accelerate the fermentation process. Crops like maize do not need molasses for good quality silage whereas leguminous crops need 2% molasses to meet the standard. It means apply 2 kg molasses for every 100 kg of legume crops/grass. For non-legume crops like maize, it is better to apply 0.4% urea to increase the protein value. In addition to this, 0.5% silage with lactobacillus in it for better boosting of fermentation process.
Filling in Silo:
Silo is the pit for preparing the silage from succulent grass and crops. It may be cemented pit or tower. After performing all the necessary process before filling it in the silo, they are filled in the silo making airtight condition to create anaerobic environment. If the wall is not cemented, to prevent from soil spoilage, place the plastic at the bottom against wall and then only fill the pit tightly which support the increased activity of lactobacillus. They ferment the carbohydrate to form lactic acid and acetic acid however, if condition is not suitable of if there is higher water content in the grass, it forms butyric acid by the increased activity of Clostridium. Finally, it causes deterioration of silage producing foul smell.
Sealing the Silo:
After filling the silo, it should be sealed tightly so that no air can pass through it and anerobic condition is not disrupt. Use plastic and raise about 50 cm above the ground for sealing the silo. From the day of sealing in this way, the silage becomes ready in 7-9 weeks and according to the requirement it is taken from one side and given/feed to the farm animals.
In developed countries, they have advanced technology to prepare the silage within 4 weeks i.e. within the month. The main change in this process is conversion of starch into lactic or acetic acid by fermentation. Cover the silo tightly when you are feeding the silage from it to the farm animals to prevent the decaying or deterioration the silage. Temperature required for silage preparation is 30-38 degree Celsius. So, cold regions where even water freezes, making silage is very unsuitable.
Qualities of best quality silage:
|Parameters||Quality silage||Poor silage|
Silo Pit Size:
Silo size totally depends upon the number of silages feeding animals, grass/forage available, silage feeding months, feeding of TMR based upon silage etc. So, the size of pit or tower for silage making should be made with great consideration of these factors. For example, in any farm if 100 animals should be fed with silage for 6 months at the rate of 7 kg per day the requirement of pit is according to the following table.
|Animals to be fed with silage||100|
|Silage amount per cubic meter (1m3)||625 kg|
|Total silage amount required for 100 animals for 6 months at 7kg per day||144000 kg|
|Silo pit for required silage preparation||226.77 m3|
|Dimension of Pit-Circular silo pit||15 * 5 * 3.1 (length * breadth * height)|
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