With continuous rise in feed ingredients & further commercialization of dairy farming, making silage & feeding to dairy animals has become common practice among dairy farmers. Like in various dairy developed countries like Israel, Holland, US, Denmark, Australia etc., Indian dairy farmer has got the art of processing high quality, nutritious silage & feeding the same to their animals, round-the-year.
Though various dairy institutes, universities, dairy departments, KVK’s etc. are educating the dairy farmers on quality silage production for many years, but it has emerged as necessary feed ingredient during the last 5-7 years, especially after the production of commercial silage in bales by imported balers & also grain cracking fodder harvesters.
Silage is prepared mainly from grain-based fodders but maize is the best choice among farmers & processors in North India, due to various advantages like more biomass, better grain-2-green ratio, better protein, carbohydrate content & 2-3 crop repeats in a year. Composition of good quality silage:
Protein % DM 6-9%
ADF % DM 25-35%
NDF % DM 35-50%
Starch % DM 25-35%
pH 3.7- 4.2
Dry Matter 28-32 %
Silage is fermented, rich, nutritious fodder in preserved & ready-2-serve form, with high DM, protein, carbohydrate, minerals & vitamins. It can be used for round-the-year, that results in more milk yield & higher SNF in dairy animals. It is also easy to handle, serve & can be stored till 12-15 months.
To prepare good quality silage, one needs to select the crop at particular stage, like milk stage in maize, when dry matter is 28-32%, fibre is low, and try to chop into 5-8 mm size, store immediately in the pit or bales, compress properly to take out the oxygen leaving for good fermentation by lactobacillus & other anaerobic bacteria. Cover the pit or bales properly with no exchange of oxygen, to leave it for next 35-45 days before one opens the silo pit or silage bale for serving to the animals. Inclusion of good quality inoculant will add value to silage, protect from harmful moulds & fungus, enables proper fermentation during ensiling.
Good for all types of small/medium/large dairies, silage is best, economical, convenient feeding that adds profits by increasing in fat & SNF yield, deduction in labour, with easy handling & storage.
Like there is always acute fodder shortage during the summer months in most of parts of the country, feeding quality silage under these conditions will be good substitute to costly wheat straw & costly concentrate feeds. Baled silage can be a blessing for India during floods, earthquakes, snow, drought etc, as it can be stored anywhere in the open. Even the Central Government is considering to form “Fodder Banks” pan India to counter fodder shortage during any given time of the year.
by Dr Harinder Singh, Excellent Enterprises