In this post i am featuring a guest writer. I heard him speak about sillage at an agro-allied seminar, an i thought why don’t i meet him for a collaboration. I’m glad i did because he was nothing short of nice.
The major challenge in raising ruminant animals e.g goats, sheep and cows is the scarcity of green grasses in the dry season and the animals are made to feed solely on poor tasting and annoying concentrates.. but cheer up all the goats and sheep around, i bring you good news. This amazing thing called silage is highly nutritious, palatable, easy to produce, long lasting (can last up to 10 years) and costs little to nothing. Its a win win if you ask me.
Silage is a fermented, high moisture stored fodder ( grasses, grains, cereals etc.) Which can be feed to ruminants to supplement the feeding of concentrates in the dry season. The process of preparing silage is called silaging, ensilage or ensiling. It is the anaerobic fermentation of plant materials which improves its taste and preserves their nutrient content.
Steps to ensiling:
- Harvest fresh grasses, maize, guinea corn, sorghum etc. (Both stems and geains can be used). Ensure they are still very succulent with high moisture content (50-60% moisture content)
- Ensiling is usually done in pits or silos, but air tight paint buckets are a perfect alternative. Chop the materials to be used into small pieces (0.5-1 inch), pile into your paint buckets or pits.
- Compact materials as much as possible using a stick or hands to get rid of all the oxygen. Seal with a plastic bag (nylon or polythene) and cover with the lid of your paint bucket.
- Molasses can be added to speed up fermentation and improve the taste of the silage.
- Your silage is ready is 30-40 days and can last up to 10 years as long as there is an absence of oxygen.
- Supplement concentrate feeds with silage by feeding animals with silage before or after concentrate feeds.
Let’s run through the advantages of silage again in case you missed them above:
- A very cheap means of providing palatable and nutritous feed for ruminants,
- Grasses, corn stalks etc that would normally be destroyed are put to good use,
- Can be a good source of income if buckets of silage are sold.
I know i will be trying this soon for the two little goats i am saving for Christmas.
Will you be giving silage a try? Let me know in the comments.
Abisola Oladele and Adeoye Ibrahim Adekunle (B.sc Agribusiness and management).