Silage Cattle Feed: The feeding practices adopted by cattle farmers greatly impact the animals’ capacity for milk production and consequently, the profitability of dairy farming. Most farmers struggle with cultivating the right quantity and quality of fodder. Typically, dairy farmers follow the daily cut-and-carry system, wherein the required quantity of fodder is harvested on a daily basis, chaffed and then fed to the cattle. This system has three distinct disadvantages: (a) it could take up to a month to harvest the fodder crop, during which time the field will remain uncultivated (b) the nutritive value of the fodder will decrease over time (c) it is labour intensive and any negligence or delay will affect the feeding time and consequently, the milk production. It is instead far more beneficial to harvest the entire crop when it is at its optimum in moisture and nutrients, and preserve it for the future. This saves on daily labour cost, ensures there are no variations in feeding time and that the field is available for taking the next crop.
How to Prepare Silage Cattle Feed
How to store chaffed fodder
Chaffed fodder can be stored in an underground silo, a silo tower, silo room or silage bags as silage cattle feed. Your choice will largely depend on the quantity produced, investment capacity and frequency of silage production.
What can be added while making silage
How to compact
Since preserving chaffed fodder in an oxygen-free environment is critical, it is important to compacting the fodder after it has been layered. This can be done manually by stamping or by using a hand compactor. Alternatively, for larger quantities of silage, a mechanical roller or tractor can be used. To maintain anaerobic conditions, it is important to cover the machine from all sides with plastic sheets. In order to maintain the compact pressure, spent tyres or stones can be put on the top of the silo. For small hold farmers who have space constraints, silage bags are available in the market which offer capacities ranging from 50 kg to one ton. Smaller bags make silage easier to transport. Spent plastic fertilizer bags can also be used as these are cheaply available. These bags can also be used multiple times if the inner liners are changed after each use.
What fodder crops can be ensiled?
Any forage or fodder crop comprising 7-10% soluble carbohydrates and grain is ideal to harvest for silage production. Typically, maize, jowar and hybrid napier fodder make for good silage. When barley, winery, vegetable or fruit waste is available, these can also be incorporated into forage.
Silage cattle feed from failed crops:
Silage can also be prepared from crops that have failed due to drought or infestation, although its quality will depend upon the moisture, nutritional content and crop age.
Nutritive value of maize silage
23.5 – 25.0%
6.5- 8.0 %
23.5 – 25.0%
18.9 MJ / Kg dry matte