Pit Silage for Sheep or Goat Farming

Steps involved in making Pit Silage

  1. Dig a shallow pit on slightly sloping ground. The depth of the pit should decrease from the higher side of the sloping ground to the lower side giving a wedge-like shape. Dimensions of the pit depend on the amount of forage to be stored. In order to store 20 bags of fresh forage, you need to dig a pit approximately 2 cubic meters, buy 10 meters of polythene and about 30 litres of molasses.
  2. Chop using a chaff cutter the forage to be preserved to sizes of about 1 inch pieces.
  3. Place polythene sheeting over the sides and floor of the pit so that the forage does not come into contact with soil.
  4. Empty chopped forage into the plastic lined pit and spread into a thin layer. Repeat this till the pit is filled to a third (6 bags).
  5. Dilute 1 litre of molasses with 3 litres of water. Sprinkle this mixture over the layer of chopped forage. Use a garden sprayer to distribute the solution evenly. This helps to feed the micro-organisms to make the silage ferment quickly which will prevent rotting.
  6. Press the forage down with your feet to force out as much air as possible. This will prevent fungi attacking and destroying the forage.
  7. Add more bags, of the chopped feed, sprinkle diluted molasses and compact the forage again. Repeat this process of adding forage, diluted molasses and compacting until the pit filled in a doom shape.
  8. Cover the pit after a final pressing with polythene sheeting to prevent water seeping into the silage and dig a small trench around the sides of the pit.
  9. Then, cover the pit with soil: a layer of 24 inches for wet, fresh fodder and up to 36 inches for more dry forage) of soil to keep the air out and to prevent damage of the polythene by rain, birds and rodents.
  10. The conservation through fermentation takes weeks. Leave it until there is shortage of feed to start using it. When prepared well with good sheeting and enough soil cover, silage can last to about 2 years.
  11. To remove feed, open the pit from the lower side of the slope. Remove enough material for one day’s feeding and then cover the open end again.


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