Steps In Silage Making Sucessful Farming Made Possible
silage making process
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One of the most crucial aspects of dairy farming is animal feeds. For you to be a successful farmer, you must have adequate, good quality feed for your cows as it is directly proportional to the quantity of milk produced. Having affordable feeds is just as important and it is for this reason that many farmers are advised to plant their own feed and especially forages since this constitute the bulk of what is fed to cows.
Silage making is the process of preserving forages for future use while maintaining the nutrient contents. Many forage crops can be ensiled including legumes, corn/maize, sorghum, Napier grass and even pasture grass. Maize silage is preferred to the rest due to the tonnage produced per acre which is significantly high and also the nutritional content when harvested at the correct time.

1.Harvest

This is the first step in silage making here the forage eg maize is harvested from the field. This can be done when a farmer see’s that the feed is excess to the immediate feed requirement and ensiling becomes usefull in this situation as the farmer is able to preserve the feed in the same quality but for future use. A rule of thumb for harvesting forage is, the more mature a crop is, the lower the nutrients it possesses. This is because as the crop matures, it has less leafy content and more “harder ” parts such as a stronger stem resulting in lower nutrients and hence it is important that a farmer harvests the crop at the right time. The fibre content increases with maturity and it is unsuitable as it has lower palatability(so a farmer is likely to witness lower intake by the cows), less digestible and has a lower protein content level.

2.Wilting.

Wilting Is the process of making the crops loose some moisture. This can be done by laying the plants against the wall or on a rack outdoors and in the sun. When wilting, it is important to remember not to wilt in thick layers as the plants in the bottom will not be exposed to the sun/heat and may lead to decomposition undoing the silage making process. Turning severally is also advised. The crops should be wilted to around 30%DM. A simple test to determine whether maize is wilted enough, chop the maize to say 3cm length and squeeze in your hand, if there is moisture/hand is wet but no water dripping and it does not return to its original form quickly, then the crop is well wilted ready for silage making. Some farmers smash the nodes and stems to fasten the wilting rate.

3.Chopping

The crops should then be chopped to lengths of between 1cm-3cm for several reasons:
• Having shorter chop lengths allows for better silage making. This is because longer chop lengths are more difficult to compress and displace the air within the crop especially the stems which are harder and hence more difficult to compress  resulting in losses in the silage making process.
• Reports show that livestock especially young ones consume more with shorter length forages as compared to longer ones and more consumption of good quality forages usually results in higher milk production.Forage chopping can be done using a number of machines or by hand. Examples are shown below:

Straw_Cusher OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA forage_harvester

To find out more about forage harvesters, write to us on info@farmingafrika.com and we will get back to you.

4.Add Fermentable Substrate and compact

This stage is carried out differently by different farmers. There are those that prefer spreading molasses on the chopped crop as they compact it while others prefer to compact as is. Especially in maize silage where I have heard seen some farmers ensile their maize without molasses and opting to utilize the natural sugars in the maize plant.
Whichever way you take, compacting must be done well and thoroughly.
This can be done in plastic tubes, a silage pit or above ground. What you are trying to achieve is to expel as much air as possible and to maintain the condition as is without allowing air in. This can be done by using the tubes or by lining the pit walls with plastic and cover with the same.

IMG-20150805-WA0005

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Eric K. (Farming Afrika Admin)
Eric K. (Farming Afrika Admin)
I am a farmer and business man, I love travelling, exploring and meeting new people. I think I was born a farmer. I want to make farming great again and tell the story.So help me God!

32 Comments

  1. D j Patel says:

    nice description , good luck, i work to promote silage use in kenya and india. I can share some machinery details with u, if u r interested, which are low cost and can be helpful for small dairy farmers

    • Gash says:

      Hi Patel, you are working to promote silage? You can share some machinery details? How can we get in touch? Am reachable on iigash@gmail.com, thanks. Gash

    • Lydiah Ndungu says:

      Interested in a small machine that can compress silage.

    • Ephraim says:

      Hey am interested with the article and i want to start a silage too…i think you can be of help

    • Clifford says:

      Hello Patel

      I hope all is well. I just seen your post and thought may be u can help me.
      I’m a small scale dairy farmer, here in Uganda. I want to improve on my fodder quantity at the farmer by fabricating a chuff cutter. I already have the engine but I want some measurements, can you help please.

      Many thanks,

      Clifford

    • Georgina says:

      i would wish to work with you

  2. Arcangelo Mugambi says:

    Educative and a reminder.
    Thanks for the trouble

    • Eric K. (Farming Afrika Admin) says:

      Thank you Arcangelo Mugambi.You are welcome

      • I love it the graduated program that improved thanks

      • MUMBERE GERALD says:

        i completed my course in agriculture,i like to have such projects but i don’t have capital to start them and i love my course.what should i do?

        • Eric K. (Farming Afrika Admin) says:

          Hi Mumbere,

          Im glad to hear you like farming,
          Please try out the youth and uwezo fund and try your luck there.
          Capital is the greatest challenge facing young people today.
          Alternatively, you can seek employment in your field of study, save some money then slowly start your farming since farming usually takes abit of time to pick up and needs capital injected severally.

    • Eric K. (Farming Afrika Admin) says:

      You are welcome Arcangelo

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you so much for these articles. They are a source of weath of knowledge. May God richly bless you.

  4. Gash says:

    Hi Eric, thanks for the great job in compiling this. Very educative piece!!!

  5. sammy says:

    Good lessons. I have a question, I want to begin dairy farming and around my area there no good high breeds and the place is soo high altitude can I import from other place that have a different altitude? 2. Wat will be the likely change? 3. How can I cop with the challenge?

  6. triza says:

    God bless u Erick. i want to start dairy farming after school and i think that will really help me.

  7. leila salma says:

    Hi am dairy farmer i have 4 cows but the milk production is really low and it keeps going down .help .love your articles

    • Eric K. (Farming Afrika Admin) says:

      Hi Leila,
      Thanks for writing to us,http://www.farmingafrika.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php#
      How do you feed your cows? Please state the specific quantities so that we can help you calculate the animal needs vs what you are feeding.
      Reduction in milk production can also be an indocator of disease and stress to the animal especially if the drop is abrupt.
      Please contact a vet to assist.
      Thanks

  8. Erick says:

    Thank you so much for your piece on silage making.

    where can I get the nylon sacks for silage storage

  9. thanks eric please give your mobile number so that i call u

  10. skemei says:

    i love dairyfarming

  11. Harris says:

    I like this. I found it very helpful to me. Thank you

  12. Elegbede says:

    Am from saki, oyo state Nigeria, I can’t get hybrid cattle readily, can I make do with bokolo stuff (sokoto gudali) for my dairy? Or any advice? And how can I get silage bag or what can I use as an alternative? Thank you.

    • Eric K. (Farming Afrika Admin) says:

      Hi Elegbede,

      Yes. You can start improving the quality by using AI(artificial insemination),This will however take long. Another option is purchasing pedigree heifers or foundation cows which are mostly costly but will ensure you acquire the production you want within a short period of time.

  13. Thanks for the good work done and for me I’m a student who would wish to start the same in western Uganda but I would like to have your advice

  14. BAZIGA says:

    hello Erick, thank you for your advice i want to start dairy farming in my home country Rwanda but how can i visit Kenyan farmers fast and meet you.
    thank you very much.

    • Eric K. (Farming Afrika Admin) says:

      Hello Baziga,

      That you for your comment.
      You can visit kenya, we have many dairy farmers doing good things and they will be more than happy to let you visit their farms. I can guide you on your travel and accomodation arrangements. Email me directly on eric@farmingafrika.com

  15. jagadish says:

    How to make silage for four cattles on plastic barrels.

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