Would you love to know and improve your knowledge of how to make quality corn silage for feeding livestock particularly cattle at low cost? Then, this article is for you as it does not only make available to you stepwise procedures of making silage only, it explains the factors affecting the quality of silage plus a video tutorial starting from harvesting of corn to storage of silage after production. You can only get this information if you read to the end. Take your time!
Formulating a ration involves combining feeds to create one that satisfies the animal’s daily nutritional needs. The price of grains and roughages in relation to their nutritive content might suggest that high-energy rations are costlier than low-energy rations. Through the Missouri Extension program, Missouri cattle feeders can obtain the services of a computer for ration computation in the form of feeds that meet the nutritional needs of the animal at the least cost.
Good cattle rations ought to be more economically beneficial, more palatable, and free from toxic ingredients, in addition to being nutritionally adequate. Efficiency is increased when rations are consumed in relation to the livestock’s body weight.
Cattle on high-energy rations tend to gain more quickly and require less feed energy for a pound of gain than on low-energy rations due to a larger daily energy intake, which results in more energy going towards gain after maintenance requirements have been met.
Factors Affecting The Quality of Silage
In order to produce the best silage possible, there are five areas to focus on. They are:
#1. Good Timing
Silage quality is actually impacted most by timing, which the farmer has control over. For instance, silage harvested in early May could contain 25% crude protein and 75 DM, and yield three tonnes/hectare dry matter. In the following two weeks, yields will have grown to 6t/ha, but the protein content will have dropped from 18% to 12% and the D-Value to 60. After another fortnight, yields might fall to 8t/ha and the protein content to 12%. This example illustrates the importance of assessing your silage needs and making silage according to them, not on a contract date or a time of year you usually make silage.
Timing is critical when applying fertilizer and herbicides as well. Make sure they have sufficient time to work before harvest, otherwise they will be a waste. Also, the application of these substances is critical when the plants are wilting. You plan to wilt grass down to 25% dry matter for a clamp, or 35-45% for bales, after cutting it at 80% moisture (20% dry matter). Ensure that the swath is properly presented to the harvester to prevent contamination or wastage.
This type of feed source complements conventional feeds with its low crude protein content and high digestible energy content. Corn silage provides ruminants with several benefits as a forage and a dietary fiber source. The nutritional value of corn silage is significantly higher than other forages. It is also distinct from other forages in that its quality does not gradually decrease with growing maturity. This is due to the fact that the size of the grain in the crop is enough to offset the decline in digestibility normally associated with structural tissues (in the case of corn, stem).
In addition to sun-dried hay, silage is also made from chopped, fermented plant material, primarily grains such as corn, barley, sorghum, oats, and millet, and sometimes canola and wheat. Silage is created using chopped crops placed into pits and packed down tightly so that there are no oxygen pockets, which may facilitate the spoilage of the feed. Haylage and silage are interchangeable since both involve the same drying and packing processes to make haylage. The concept of silage, however, involves annual crops rather than perennial forages. It is recommended to conserve surplus crops such as Napier grass, maize trimmings, or grass for use in dry seasons. Maize, for example, should also be grown specifically for silage.
#2. Quality Grass
Rye-grass is a common choice, with clover to boost yields and protein and reduce fertilizer demand. Rye-grass is a common option with clover grass to improve yields and quality over a defined reseeding period.
#3. Soil Nutrition
Lower pH and nutrient levels are believed to result in lower yields and lower grass quality, which is why soil samples should be taken to determine nitrogen intake. A tonne of grass contains about 2.1kg of phosphate and 7.2kg of potash. Additionally, sulphur plays an extremely important role, particularly in later cuttings on sandy and shallow soils.
#4. Harvest Method and Techniques
Harvesting is not a straightforward task. Make sure your equipment is well maintained to prevent expensive breakdowns. There are several different options when it comes to mowing, tedding, raking, and harvesting. In order to maximize production efficiency and silage quality, it is essential to evaluate the farm’s needs, labour availability, and handling capacity. There are several approaches to making silage, but one of the most effective is the use of plastic tubes.
How to Make Quality Silage
Cut the forage to lengths of about 1 inch (1 cm) or smaller using a panga or chaff cutter. Place 50-70 kilograms of the chopped material (one ordinary bag) on a flat surface; spread the material into a thin layer.
If available, dilute 1 litre of molasses with 1 to 3 litres of water to spread the 1 litre molasses properly over the 50-70 kg of chopped forage.
Sprinkle the diluted molasses on the chopped forage, particularly by using a watering can, so that it spreads evenly. Turn/mix the forage frequently to make sure it is evenly coated.
Tie a 2.5m long 2.5m wide tubing with 800 gauge to form a large ‘plastic bag’ and load the 50-70 kg forage mixture with molasses into the bag. Compress as much as possible.
Repeat steps 1 – 3 twice, each time compacting well after adding the forage to the plastic bag.
Tie the top of the plastic bag tightly to make sure air does not remain above the forage mixture.
Store in the shade away from direct sunlight or rain. It might be beneficial to place some weight on the tied sack to make it compact. Note: A filled silage bag must be filled at the storage site as it is very heavy. Instead, use up to 1.5 m long tubes filled with fewer materials. Make as many bags of silage as your forage will allow.