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Silage Making for Profitable Dairy Farming


Need of silage in dairy farming.

To produce good quality milk we need good quality feed and fodder throughout the year. But most of the time farmers find it difficult to provide good quality fodder to animals due to lack of availability. For example, when you cultivate green maize it will last only for 10 to 20 days in the nutritious stage and hence it becomes difficult to feed green maize throughout the year. But with silage, we can feed nutritious maize and forage in good condition daily to the animals throughout the year.

By using silage, labour cost is reduced for the farmer as he won’t have to go to the fields daily for harvesting and transporting them. This not only reduces labour problems for us but also helps in dealing with labour availability problems. Instead of working daily to procure fodder we need to work only for 10 days and preserve fodder for the entire year.

Most importantly using silage can reduce the cost of milk production by maintaining the same price of fodder throughout the year as it is prepared when the cost of green fodder is the lowest.

Problems faced in silage making

Complete knowledge of every aspect is required for being successful in silage making. Farmers who started with it were not aware of the correct moisture levels that are required in the crop for silage making. They used additives in wrong proportions and spoilage increased. Hence even if they started silage making they did not get back to producing silage again.

Crops to be used and stages for silage making

Crops such as maize, sorghum, oats, millet, hybrid Napier, and leucerne or alfalfa are considered perfect for making silage. For silage making the crop has to be harvested at a stage when it has the highest nutrition. In maize when you cut the cob into two, the milk line should be clearly visible. Milk line is the line that can be seen between the yellow part and white part in the cob which would signal that it is ready for silage making.

Methods of preparing silage

You can prepare silage by using bags, pits, bunkers and drums.

After harvesting when you are sure about the proper moisture percentage in green fodder you have to chaff it to a size of a quarter inch to one inch.Most importantly after chaffing you have to directly fill the fodder in the bag, pit or bunker. After every 1.5 feet of filling you need to press the fodder by feet or tractor. Keep pressing till it cannot be pressed further. If you want to add silage culture or additives then it can be sprayed or sprinkled in the right proportions. While doing these steps we have to be quick so that air does not enter. We have to close the bag or pits from all sides by driving out the air and. Some people also use vaccum pump to drive out the residual air. After that you have to keep some heavy articles such as bags of sand or soil or other heavy material which is easily available and put them on top of the silage bags, pits or bunkers.

Sizes of Pits and Bunkers for Silage Making

Silage Pit and Bunker Sizes
Silage Pit and Bunker Sizes

Additives are to be added in silage making

When we use additives in silage making they help in better fermentation of the forage and in better retention of nutrients. They improve silage quality thereby improving milk yield. Additives are usually Silage cultures such as Rumifirm - Intron or Dupont Pioneer etc which are available in market. Some Silage cultures are also available in Liquid form which needs to be diluted using water.

Care that you need to take after opening silage bags, pits, and bunkers

  1. While removing silage you should take out an entire layer of silage. If you dig from one side only then other sides exposed to air can get infected by fungus. This could lead to build up of harmful toxins in the silage.
  2. You need to use silage daily till the time the bunker or pit is completely used. If you give gaps in usage, the exposed layers will get fungus growth.
  3. After opening you need to take out all the silage and use it within 60 to 90 days.
  4. After removing the silage every day you should close the pit and bunker and cover it properly.

To attend a FREE course on “Silage Making for dairy farms” from Teplu.

Silage Making Materials and Bags
Silage Making Materials and Bags
Silage Making
Silage Making
Silage Making Process
Silage Making Process

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