Fodder is packed in airtight condition to preserve its nutritional value, improve its quality and taste and to make it easily digestible. This is called silage or pickle of the fodder. In this process, green fodder is fermented through special bacteria which can survive without oxygen. The resulting fodder is tasty and easily digestible for animals.
Good Quality Silage:
The preparation of good quality silage depends on
• Timely harvesting of fodder.
• The quantity of air in it at the time of packing and the preservation method.
• In this process useful bacteria converts soluble starches into lactic acid.
• pH should be 3.0-4.0, which stops the growth of harmful germs.
• It should be safe for animal consumption.
Crops for Silage:
Silage can be made from all winter and summer fodders. But mostly maize, oats. Sorghum etc. are used for silage making. Crops with broad leaves and thick stems are best for silage. Leguminous and non-leguminous are mixed together to make best silage. Because Leguminous fodder has less carbohydrates and protein content. Therefore usually mixed with non leguminous fodder. Furthermore, if moisture content is high in fodder, wheat straw or crushed cobs of maize can be added for this purpose.
Steps for Making Silage:
1. Check moisture in fodder
The Method of Checking Moisture in the Fodder:
The ratio of moisture in fodder is the best when no water seeps out of the stem of the fodder on squeezing it. But it is important to get the crop examined by an expert.
It is important to determine the right time for harvesting fodder to get the best nutritional value from silage. The time to harvest can be determined from the following indications:
1. When the plant is fully mature.
2. About Half of the grain in maize is milky.
3. fruitful fodder should contains 50 percent flowers.
4. Moisture content is must be 65-70 percent in fodder.
Fodder can be chopped with a common fodder chopper, but an electric chopper or the tractor’s shaft can speed up the chopping process, which brings about improvement in the quality of silage. It can be done with the basic sickle as well. Modern harvesters are also available for the chopping process.
The Size of Chopped Fodder:
The size of chopped fodder ¼ th to ¾th inch is considered best for silage, but a one inch size of 15-20 percent pieces of chopped fodder keeps its fiber ratio to an appropriate level. Care should be taken to reduce the fodder loss during chopping. Then chopped fodder should be pressed and stored promptly to maintain its nutritional value.
Storage of the Silage:
Following things must be remembered when choosing a storage place:
1. This storage place should be near the animals barn.
2. It should be on a higher ground to save it from water.
3. Salt-affected soil should be avoided.
4. The entire process should be completed within 16 to 20 hours.
5. Efficient and timely arrangements should be made for hiring of labour and required machinery relevant to the quantity of silage.
6. Delay in the preparation of the silage cause harmful fermentation which reduces its nutritional value.
7. The filling and pressing process should be finished in a single day to initiate the process of useful fermentation.
8. Roll out the chopped fodder in 6 to 9 inches thick layers.
9. Consistent pressing is required between each layer, which is done with the help of a tractor, which moves on it to pack it tightly.
10. This packing or pressure maintains its temperature and weight squeezes out air.
11. Then fermentation begins and 25 to 30 kilogram silage can be stored in one cubic foot.
12. The fodder should be protected from air as well as rainwater.
13. It should be covering with a water proof plastic and placing it on discarded vehicle tires or sandbags on it.
14. Silage is ready for utilization as fodder for the animals in 4-6 weeks.
Precautions For Silage:
1. It should be chopped in small size.
2. Protect it from dust during the pressing process.
3. Fill the pit rapidly.
4. Pack the silage carefully to prevent it from air and water.
5. Press the fodder with the help of tractor in 6-9 inch layers.
Advantages of Silage:
1. A cheap substitute for fodder at the time of fodder short age.
2. It is more digestible than fodder.
3. Land is accessible for the next crop without delay, because all of the fodder is harvested timely and stored at once.
4. Animals get nutritious feed the entire year.
5. Expenditure on labour force is decreased considerable.
Use of the Silage:
The animals like eating silage, but the buffalo may be reluctant in the beginning. In this case, feed it with green fodder or concentrate mixed in the silage, so that it develops taste for the silage. Then increase its quantity gradually. Provide 3 percent dry matter according to the weight of the animal. Give 15 to 20 kilogram silages along with concentrates daily to the lactating animals. Be careful when removing silage from the pit. Cover it with polythene to protect it from air and moisture
Binish Ali, Ibrar Hussain, Syed Zeeshan Haider and Fayyaz Hussain supervised by Dr. Haroon Zaman Khan Department of Agronomy University of Agriculture Faisalabad.