What is SILAGE
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.
Types of crops suitable for silage making
maize, jowar, bajra, hybrid napier, oat, berseem, Lucerne, cowpea
Harvest at proper stage
1. Crops at preflowering to flowering stage should be harvested.
2. Crops should not contain more than 75% moisture while silage making.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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, etc. ) 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
1. The filling should be rapid with proper pressing by use of tractor after each filling to remove air.
2. Silo pit filling should be completed within 4-7 days.
3. After thorough pressing, top should be covered with polythene followed by soil layer of 6 inches depth.
4. Top of silo pit after filling and compressing should be higher than surrounding. Plug all possible areas of air or water entry.
Removing silage from pit
1. Silage should be ready within a period of 2-3 week of sealing.
2. Once opened the pit should be fed completely.
3. Silage may be fed from top, layer by layer, daily.
4. On exposure to air for longer period silage get spoiled. Hence, try to prevent entry of air.
Characteristics of good silage
1. Good silage should be green, brown or golden colour (black colour indicate poor silage).
2. It should not contain mould.
3. Its smell should be good smell of lactic and acetic acid (like dahi and viniger).
4. Taste should be pleasant and acidic.
Benefits of silage making