India is a country of rich culture, where animal husbandry is considered as the art of rearing animals, and livestock is more of family livelihood. But as commercialization takes place, especially for milk-yielding animals, it is more important than ever to see if dairy animals (cattle and buffaloes) are fed as per their nutritional requirements.
It is a known fact that by and large, dairy farmers in India face a huge scarcity of green fodder for feeding their animals. With the reducing area of pasture, the problem is becoming more prominent. The health of milk producing animal and the quality of produced milk is largely dependent on the quality of the fodder given to the animal. But the seasonal variation in crops along with its unavailability throughout the year, makes it difficult for farmers to maintain the uniformity in feed. With increasing cost of quality fodder, a dairy farmer with very less or no land holdings finds dairy farming unprofitable and many of them opt out of the business. However, with the newer technology of ready-made baled silage, the animals could get greens during most part of the year which would result in economic milk production.
Baled Silage – An advanced technology
Silage, rather the preserved green fodder, can resolve most of the issues of dairy farmers and help them in making dairy farming a more profitable business. Silage (or Ensilage) is a natural preservation and fortification of green forage such as Maize, Moringa, Bajra, Wheat, Jowar Berseem and Hybrid grass, after harvesting the greens when its moisture level is around 30-35%. These forage plants are chopped and stored in an anaerobic condition in order to fortify the fermentation process. Sometimes an inoculum is also added to improve the quality of fermentation. This process is also called ensiling. A fully fermented silage is in golden brown color with sweet smell and sufficient moisture, and can be stored for 12 months which is a good way to ensure uniform feed for cattle for the whole year.
Many traditional silage making practices such as pits, bunkers and bags come with their own inherent disadvantages. The most advanced Baled Silage technology is now becoming more popular across the world, especially in the tropical countries. Silage baling process uses advanced compaction technologies to create anaerobic conditions inside the bales and it also hastens the process of fermentation. Also, the quality of baled silage is superior to any other traditionally made silage.
Features of Best quality Silage
1. The color is golden brown
2. Compaction or density must be at least 600 kg/m3
3. Moisture while baling should be between 65%and 75%
4. Chopping length must be less than2 cm.
Benefits of Baled Silage (ex: Maize Silage)
- High nutrition with high digestibility
- Increase in milk production
- Higher shelf-life
- Improved health in animals
- Higher profitability for dairy farmers
Economics of corn silage
Following table helps to understand how 6kg corn silage is more economical and nutritious than any of alternatives.
Feeding of more concentrates can lead to higher production of short-chain fatty acids, which in turn might lower the ruminal pH. A ruminal pH < 5.8 for a certain period can lead to subacute ruminal acidosis. Keeping the ruminal pH within the physiological range is important for microorganisms colonizing the rumen. Those microorganisms metabolize feed protein via ammonia or amino acids to microbial protein, which is then available for the host. Microbial efficiency is limited by the availability and balance of nitrogen and energy, the latter is mostly provided as starch. This imbalance in pH leads to lesser digestibility in animals which badly effects the animal health. If some amount of concentrates is replaced with silage, it will result in a better cost benefit.
Dairy animals and their nutritional requirements
Farmers usually feed the cattle with crop residues, as the major roughage, or the residues from the food processing factories. Being lower in the nutritional values, these residues may not provide optimum nutrition. For increase in production of milk, farmers prefer to mix huge quantities of concentrate in the feed which results in imbalanced feed which causes lower rumen pH and change in the fermentation pattern which can lead to acidosis. On the other hand, the silage contains dry matter, green matter, moisture, fibre and protein in a balanced ratio. It is easy for dairying animal to easily absorb the nutrition, and keep its system clean and healthy. A healthy animal will produce better quality and quantity of milk along with other health benefits.
Making Good Quality Silage requires scientific understanding of the processes involved. Bailed Silage using the technology can definitely revolutionise the Indian dairy farming industry.
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