The practice of silage preparation is a skill that most farmers have mastered to conserve excess fodder and increase milk production.
Silage is an essential component in the diet of dairy cows, and well-preserved silage is a hallmark of successful dairy farming.
After a period of 21 days, the preserved silage is ready for feeding and can last for two years or more.
High-quality maize silage, with a crude protein content of 18%, can significantly enhance milk production in dairy cows when provided as a supplement to other fodders and concentrates.
For the convenience of farmers, Rachurian Enterprises offers a range of high-quality dairy meals and animal supplements that can be ordered from the comfort of your farms.
Reach out to Rachurian on +254723855494.
The quantity of silage fed per cow is dependent on milk production, with cows producing more milk fed with more silage to improve their milk yield.
Research indicates that feeding cows with silage in the first lactating stage increases milk production by up to 10%.
However, improper silage-making processes can lead to rotten silage full of aflatoxins, which pose significant health risks to both animals and humans.
Elevated levels of aflatoxin exposure have been associated with health concerns such as delayed heat, bloating, miscarriages, and decreased milk production.
It is, therefore, essential to understand these risks and take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of both animals and humans.
What is silage-making?
Silage-making is the process of fermenting chopped crop residues with high moisture content under aerobic conditions to produce a special fodder known as silage.
This involves the art of preparing, fermenting, and preserving chopped cropped residues to form a highly nutritious and palatable feed for cattle.
Silage can be made from a variety of ingredients such as maize, sorghum, millet, and sunflower.
To ensure high crude protein and energy, it is important to chop the crops when they are mature and moist.
Benefits of silage making
The benefits of silage-making are numerous. For instance, it enables farmers to conserve green fodder throughout the year without losing nutrients.
Additionally, it reduces labour by mechanizing the silage-making process, particularly in fodder harvesting.
Silage-making also requires less space than hay-making, making it ideal for small-scale farmers.
Silage making in Kenya
Silage-making has been adopted by dairy farmers in Kenya, particularly in the highlands, as a way of conserving excess fodder after the 2007 drought.
SNV has played a key role in promoting silage-making by engaging dairy farmers through training and demonstrations.
Initially, maize silage was the main crop used, but this later changed to fast-growing crops like sorghum and millet.
Today, silage-making has been commercialized, and farmers can purchase ready-to-feed silage.
Silage making bags
Silage bags are a convenient storage option for silage-making.
These UV-treated, airtight polythene bags come in two colours: white and black.
The white type with a black lining is ideal for outdoor storage, as it is made white on the outside to reflect excess heat and black on the inside to keep it warm.
Most white silage bags are 1.5 M X 1 M and can hold up to 360 kg.
Silage bags for indoor storage are black on both the inside and outside, enabling them to absorb and retain heat.
Most outdoor silage bags are 1 m by 1 m and can hold over 200 kg of silage.
Silage making process
The silage-making process has five major steps that are the same, regardless of the storage method.
These include harvesting the forage when it is mature and has at least 30% dry matter, chopping the forage into 1-3cm lengths, adding fermentable substrates such as molasses or livestock microbes, mixing and compressing in an airtight container, and keeping an airtight seal until you are ready to feed it.
If the silage is unsatisfactory, it is important to determine the reason so that you can avoid it next season.
Reach out to us for silage ensiling services on +254736906472