Silage Making Process:
In this article let us discuss about quality storable feed making process.
Silage is a fermented feed resulting from the storage of high moisture crops under anaerobic conditions in a structure known as silo. When the green is stored in an airtight silo its fermentation by microbes result in production of lactic acid, acetic acid and formic acid, which prevent decomposition and growth of unwanted spoilage organisms. Eventually, the acids kill most of the microbes and preserve the silage as long as (10-15 year) anaerobic condition is maintained.
There are Several Advantages:
- Silage preserves up to 85 per cent of nutritive value of crop.
- It can ensure supply of quality forage in lean period. When green production in excess, it can be preserved for future use
- The produce from a given area can be stored in less space compared to when stored in dry condition.
- A cubic foot of silage contains about three times more dry weight of feed than a cubic foot of long hay stored in the heap.
How to Prepare?:
Preparing Silo Pit:
The size of silo pit should be decided on the basis of
- number of Sheep or Goat,
- body weight of Sheep or Goat
- length of feeding period and
- amount of fodder available.
On an average, preparation of every 7.0 quintal silage require one cubic meter silo pit. Say, for feeding 12 adult buffaloes for one month period we need about (30 Kg silage of 30% dry matter per head per d) 108 quintals silage and 16 cubic meter silo pit (2.6 meter diameter and 3 meter height). Silo pits should be easy to fill and easy to remove. It should be of adequate depth for better packing and less surface area to total mass exposed. It should be at highest spot to avoid water seepage. Walls should be strong. Boundaries should be raised so that rain water cannot enter silo pit.
Types of crops suitable for silage making
Crops having good percentage of sugar and appropriate (35-40% dry matter; 65-60% moisture.) moisture are good for silage making.
- Maize (Corn).
- Hybrid napier.
- Oats are most suitable.
Leguminous crops like:
- cowpea is not suitable, unless molasses are sprayed on these crops while filling silo pit.
Harvest at Proper Stage:
- Crops at pre-flowering to flowering stage should be harvested.
- Crops should not contain more than 75% moisture while silage making.
- Crops with hollow stems like maize, jowar, bajra, hybrid napier should be chaffed to an inch size to prevent trapping of air and spilage of silage.
- High moisture crops can be dried in sunshine for 4 hours to reduce moisture content by 15%. Some dry hay or straw 5-20% can also be added.
- If the crop is over ripe and too dry or it over dried, add water during packing silo.
Add any of the following additives when needed:
Molasses: When legumes (berseem, Lucerne) and low sugar grasses are ensiled adding molasses improve quality of silage and its palatability. Molasses may be added at the rate of 3.5-4 percent of green weight of silage.
Urea: Cereal forages can be enriched for nitrogen (protein) content by spraying urea at the rate of 0.5 to 1.0 percent of fresh forage.
Lime: This can be added at a level of 0.5-1.0 percent to maize silage to increase acid production.
Filling and Sealing of the Silo Pit:
- The filling should be rapid with proper pressing by use of tractor after each filling to remove air.
- Silo pit filling should be completed within 4-7 days.
- After thorough pressing, top should be covered with polythene followed by soil layer of 6 inches depth.
- Top of silo pit after filling and compressing should be higher than surrounding. Plug all possible areas of air or water entry.
Removing From Pit:
- It should be ready within a period of 2-3 week of sealing.
- Once opened the pit should be fed completely.
- It may be fed from top, layer by layer, daily.
- On exposure to air for longer period silage get spoiled. Hence, try to prevent entry of air.
Characteristics of Good Silage:
- It should be green, brown or golden colour (black colour indicate poor one).
- It should not contain mould.
- Its smell should be good smell of lactic and acetic acid (like dahi and viniger).
- Taste should be pleasant and acidic.