Silage is a stored fodder that can be used as feed for sheep, cattle and any other ruminants or even as a biofuel feedstock. Silaging, or the creation of silage, can be a somewhat confusing process – getting it right is important as improper fermentation can reduce its quality and nutritional value. It is a fantastic regular feed supply and is ideal for during wet conditions.
If you’re considering silage or just curious as to how to make it more effectively, read on for a few tips. There is also a rundown on the silage creation and storing process.
What is silage made from?
Silage is made from soluble carbohydrates and grass crops like sorghum, maize and other cereals. Because it can be made from a number of field crops and utilises the entire green plant and not just the grain, it’s an incredibly efficient form of feed.
What do you need to make?
There are two common ways to create silage, one relies on having a silo available and the other requires a plastic sheet to cover a heap or plastic wrap to create large bales. Using a silo is obviously the most effective way to create silage, but if you don’t have silos available then it is viable to create silage with only plastic wrapping.
How often should silage be made?
Optimum fermentation of silage occurs after 60 to 70 days. This means it’s best to make silage several times throughout the year so it can be used when it is most effective every time. It’s important to properly estimate your silage needs to minimise loss and ensure efficiency.
How do you fill a silo?
Silage should be filled into a silo layer by layer. While some farmers will use just one silo, if you have several at your disposal it is far more effective to split your silage between them. This means you will minimise silage losses as they will be emptied out quickly.
Continuous treading allows you to properly compact the crop and remove any air that would prevent the growth of the anaerobic bacteria required for the silage to ferment. Chopping forage up into pieces that are no larger than 2 centimetres will aid in the compaction process. The silo should then be sealed after as much air as possible is expelled.