Silage Safe and Healthy Fodder


The contribution of livestock in national GDP in year 2014-15 is 11.8% while it contributes 56.3% to agriculture. Fodder is an important factor in various farming systems as it is necessary for the normal functioning of livestock and without this animal survival is very difficult. Its demand is now increasing day by day so farmers grow multi-cut fodder like barseem, lucerne, sorghum, maize and millet. Now a days weather is tremendously changing, no one can predict its schedule accurately. So harsh weather conditions like severe cold and fog are disturbing the normal growth of fodder thats why its production is decreasing. Farmers are facing problems in managing the fodder for their animals. So to overcome this shortage of fodder, silage is best option for animals feed. Any green plant material that undergoes fermentation in silo is known as silage. Silo is a large structure for storage in which green forage is stored and fermented. This process is known as ensilage.


Qualities of good silage


Light brownish color is an indicator of good silage. It has bitter taste and little smell due to its acidic contents. Lactic acid is commonly present in it. In the absence of oxygen it can be kept safe for years. For proper fermentation, crop should be at such stage that it has maximum carbohydrates contents and moisture level should be very low.


Why silage is more preferable for feeding livestock?


Commonly fodder is used as a best feed for livestock but in the periods of fodder shortage there must be some another source of feed for livestock. Among those sources silage is the best option because it is nutritious, containing essential proteins which are required by livestock. Silage is best liked by livestock due to its high digestibility and palatability.


Silage preparation


Following steps are commonly used in the preparation of silage


Harvesting


Chopping


Storage


Harvesting Best silage can only be achieved if it is harvested at proper time so at that time it is best at its nutritional stage. This harvesting time can be judged by given indications:


Plant is at its maturity stage


In case of maize, half grain is in milking stage


It must have 50 % flowers


65-70 % moisture should be there


Method of checking moisture in fodder


Fodder will be at its optimum moisture content when its stem is squeezed and no water comes out of it. It is the best indication of moisture. The ratio of moisture in fodder is the best when no water seeps out of the stem of the fodder on squeezing it.


Chopping


Chopping of fodder can be done with a common chopper but to enhance the process of chopping an electric chopper can also be used. Fodder can be chopped with a common fodder chopper, but an electric chopper or the tractors shaft can hasten the chopping process, which results in improvement in the quality of silage


The size of chopped fodder ¼th to ¾th inch size is considered best for silage, although 1 inch size of 15 % pieces of chopped fodder maintains its fiber level.


Storage of the silage


It can be stored in a pit on higher ground. Certain points should be keep in mind while selecting place for storage.


It should be near to shed.


It should be on at some elevation to save it from water.


No salinity at that place.


Advantages of silage


Field losses minimum


Harvest losses less


Harvesting and storage through mechanical means


No water damage risk


No risk for loss of nutrients


Used in different livestock programs


Problems in the silage production


Large volume of fodder creates problems in handling


Other machinery used for its harvesting and storage


Risk of loss if care is not taken


Factors affecting silage quality


The factors which affect the quality of silage are


Type of crop


Stage of maturity


Moisture content


Length of chop


Most of crops including legumes and grasses can be stored as silage but the most common is corn. Its energy contents are higher. Alfalfa and sorghum also can be used for silage purpose. We should choose crop at that stage at which it has maximum green part. This is most important for good silage. Moisture content for silage crop should be near 65-70 %.Length of chop also affect as air exclusion is affected by this. There should be good chopping and packing.


Storage of silage


Traditional storage methods on farms are silos. However bales are also becoming popular. These are wrapped in polythene material to ensile them and can be of three colors. Black is the most common color. White promotes lower fermentation temperature as it reflects the sun.

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