Conservation of green fodder
In the animal husbandry business, if the breeding, feeding and management of animals will be done with scientific methods, only then the animal owners will benefit from the dairy business. For this, breeding, feeding and management of animals should be done in a systematic way.
It is often seen that animals require green fodder throughout the year. But green grasses are not available throughout the year except in irrigated areas. Green fodder and grasses are available in abundance only during the rainy season.
Therefore, when these green fodders are available in large quantities, they should be kept safe for those times when there is a shortage of green fodder. Because in the form of green fodder, animals keep getting the necessary amount of carotene, protein and vitamins.
Thus it becomes necessary to preserve the green fodder. There are two ways to preserve green fodder-
- Silage making
- Hay making
Silage definition- Silage is the succulent fodder obtained by pressing green fodders into silos and preserving it by fermentation. So that it can be fed to animals in times of lack or shortage of green fodder.
Silage is soft green fodder held securely (pressed) after cutting green fodder into small pieces, which is fed to livestock at times when green fodder is often scarce in the fields. To keep the green fodder safe, it is kept well pressed in the ground by making pits or by making special types of towers above the ground, which are called silos, so that there is no air between the fodder. Almost all the elements of green fodder are present in this pressed fodder. The process of making silage is called Ensiling.
When silage is made from fodder containing 40-50% moisture, it is called haylage.
When silage is made from animal organic waste in different proportions with fodder, it is called wastelage.
What is Silo for silage making
Silo is a pit or ditch in the ground or a special type of tower above the ground in which silage is made by pressing green fodder.
Types of Silo
There are three types of silos.
Mostly circular or right-angled quadrilateral shaped pits are made in the ground. Spherical silos are good because the feed can be pressed tightly in them and there is no air in them. For an ordinary farmer who has 5 animals, round silos of 3 m diameter and 3.5 m depth are best. Silo pits can be made either raw or concrete. They are cheap but the loss of fodder in them is relatively high. Silo pits should not be built where the water level in the land is high.
In this type of silo, a ditch is made in the ground with a width of 2.9 m at the bottom and 2.5 m at the top. The depth of the trench depends on the depth of the water level in the ground but their depth should not be more than 2.4 metres. The floor of the trench must have a slope on one side. A cart can be used to bring and carry the chaffed fodder.
Due to this type of silo being wide at the bottom, fodder can be pressed easily in these silos. The silo should be filled flat.
These types of silos are built where the water level in the land is high and the number of animals on the dairy farm is high. These silo towers are made of wood, brick or concrete above the ground. Their diameter can be kept up to 3 meters and height up to 6 meters.
Some essential points before making silage
- Crops which have high carbohydrate content like jowar, maize and oats produce good quality silage.
- The dry matter in the crops from which the silage is to be made should not be more than 30-40%.
- The feed can be well pressed into the silo; For this it is necessary that the fodder should be cut into small pieces.
- A layer of straw should be put in the soil on the walls and floor of the silo.
- It should take minimum time to fill the fodder in the silo.
- While filling the silo, the chaffed fodder should be spread in thin and uniform layers over the entire area by pressing it well so that the air can escape.
- The silo should be filled ‘above’ the ground level so that the fodder remains above the ground level even after sitting down after fermentation.
- After filling the silo, a thick layer of straw or polythene sheet should be laid on it and a 30 cm thick layer of soil should be put on it. And it should be ‘coated’ from above.
- There should not be any hole in the silo so that rain water and air cannot enter.
- To make silage, the crops should be harvested at the flowering stage.
Silage making process
Most of the silage in India is made in pits. Therefore, the pits are kept protected from rain. The crop is harvested at the stage of flowering. As the crop increases, the amount of fiber increases and the digestive elements decrease. The crop is harvested in the morning and left in the field for the whole day so that the moisture gets reduced. Lay some grass at the bottom. It is better to fill the crop by cutting it with a machine.
While filling the fodder in the pits, it is pressed hard so that no air remains in between the fodder. The fodder should be filled 1-2 m above the ground surface as later its level decreases. In the end, some grass is put on top and it is closed by coating it with soil so that air and water cannot enter from anywhere.
When the green fodder is cut and filled in the pits, the living cells of the plants perform respiration and expel carbon dioxide using the oxygen left in the pit. Thus, when oxygen is used in 5 hours, mildew does not develop in the pit in the presence of about 70-80% carbon dioxide. If air enters the pits or towers, then mildew develops and rots the fodder.
Bacteria growing in the absence of air (anaerobic bacteria) increase their numbers. They react with sugars (carbohydrates) present in plants to produce organic acid especially lactic acid. Apart from this, acetic acid and ethyl alcohol are also produced. Due to the production of these acids, rot-causing bacteria are unable to grow.
In fodders that are low in sugar (carbohydrates), rot-causing bacteria multiply due to low acid production. If the amount of sugar is high in the fodder, the silage is of good quality. After some time the production of these acids stops because the acid producing bacteria stops growing on their own when more acid is produced.
The chemical changes in silage stop. If air goes inside even at this time, then the silage gets rotten, otherwise it remains safe for a long time. The production of acid depends on the amount of sugar (Carbohydrate) in the plants. In sorghum and maize during flowering stage, the sugar content is suitable for making silage.
Properties of Silage
Animals start eating a good silage after a few days with great taste. Adding 5% salt to green fodder improves the taste of silage. The properties of silage depend on the stage of the crop at the time of harvesting the fodder. Most of the grasses should be cut before flowering or at the flowering stage.
Rijka (Alfa-alfa) should be harvested at the beginning of flowering (when 10 to 20% of the plants have flowered) and soybean, guar (cluster bean) and cowpea should be harvested after the first pods are full of grain. Oats, maize, barley and jowar (sorghum) should be harvested at the milking stage (early dough) or shot blade stage.
Harvesting of mixed crop should be done after attaining the favorable stage of the crop which has been sown in excess quantity. Well prepared silage retains 80 to 85% of the nutritional value of green fodder. Good silage does not have an odor. Odorous silage is considered bad.
In a well-filled silo, silage is ready for feeding in about 3 months. To feed the silage, one part of the silo is opened and the entire piece from bottom to top is removed simultaneously. A healthy animal can be fed 10 to 15 kg of silage or 5 kg of silage per 100 kg body weight in a day.
It takes a few days for animals to become accustomed to eating silage, therefore, if the animal does not eat it for a day or two in the beginning, then it should not be disappointed. If the animals are fed silage at the living place itself, then silage should be fed after harvesting so that the smell of silage could not mix in the milk.
Benefits of making Silage
- In the form of silage, green crops can be kept in soft and succulent condition for a long time and in the absence of green fodder, that shortage can be filled by silage.
- By storing the fodder in the form of silage, the amount of nutrients can be saved from wastage to some extent, because these elements are destroyed in large quantities by making straw.
- In the rainy season when it is difficult to make “Hay” from green crops or grasses, Silage can be made.
- Weeds are also cut along with the crop harvested for silage, so the weed control also done along with it.
- More space is required to collect the ripe crop of an area in the form of straw, whereas silage can be prepared in a small space and kept safe.
- Silage can be fed to animals throughout the year. It is of good quality.
- When the fodder is dried and stored, there is a risk of fire or rotting in the rain. But there is no such problem in the storing of silage.
Difficulties in making silage
- To make silage, special types of silos have to be made, so a lot of money and labor is spent in making them.
- The amount of vitamin D in silage is less than that of Hay.
- Due to the use of preservatives, additional cost is incurred in making silage.
- If the silage is not made properly, its foul smell becomes a problem for the dairy farm and all the hard work and fodder goes in vain.
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