Silage is the process of preservation of chaffed green fodder in anaerobic condition (no air inside the pit/bank/ tube) by way of fermentation method.
The fodder should have good sugar content and required moisture to prepare good feeds as sugar is utilized in fermentation process to make lactic acid by microorganisms.
Cereal green fodder crops like maize, Napier, sugarcane tops are most suitable for making silage.
Other leguminous crops like alafalafa, lablab are also suitable for making silage.
The following points should be kept in mind before harvesting green fodder crops intended for silage.
1. Harvest crops at pre-flowering to flowering stage.
2. Make sure that the fodder doesn’t contain more than 75% moisture while ensiling.
3. in case of maize, Napier fodders, they should be chaffed to an inch size using a chopper, chaff cutters or panga to prevent trapping of air and spoilage of silage.
4. In case of high moisture green fodder crops, dry them in Sun for not less than 4-10 hours depending on the weather condition of the day to reduce moisture content by 15-25%.
5. If the green fodder crop is over ripe and over dried, adding a mixture of Molasses and microbes with water during processing is required.
Advantageously, silage production reduces feed costs and silage can be used when there is scarcity of feeds or when there no forage available on ground.
It is very much useful in stall- fed goats,sheep and cattle/ zero grazing feed lot.
It can be stored for a long period of time MAX. 4years.
It can provide nutrients/ mineral trace elements and vitamins to livestock for better health.
Silage has lactic acids hence it is easily digestible to livestock and beneficial in case of drought condition.
Simple steps of making silage from grasses and maize:
1. Chop the materials into small pieces of about 1 inch using a chopping machine, chaff cutter or panga for small holder farmers.
2. Wilt the chopped materials for about 4-10hours to achieve a 75% moisture content.
3. After achieving the above, mix Molasses 2-4littres and 1-2littres of microbes in 20littres of clean water. You can go an extra mile and add 250g of complex silage enzymes to the solution and stir it throughout.
4. Sprinkle the mixture on the chopped/ wilted materials using a watering can and turn the materials generously.
5. Compact the materials into a silage pit/bank/ silo/ tube with force to remove all the air in the materials for a good fermentation process.
6. Cover the pit with a silage cover/polythene cover(800-1000g) and seal the pit throughout. In case of a silo or tube, close the fore end with a silo cover or sisal(silage tubes) in order for the silage not to have any air circulation within.
7. Keep the silage in a cool /pest rodent free environment for more less 10 days and start feeding to the Livestock.
8. In case of stovers, pastures which have been harvested on seeds, you can add maize bran at an inclusion rate of more less 5% and a small Potion of urea. You can go an extra mile and add cotton seed-cake, sunflower etc. As by pass protein.
Still you can add leguminous pastures like alfalfa or lablab to the fodder during chopping to take the C.P levels up.