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Friday, April 22, 2011

Making your own silage on a small scale

Now is a good time to start making and storing your own silage. It is rather easy on small scale.

The simplest is for those that mow their grass. Simply mow, allow to wilt, bag in a large zip type plastic baggy, or trash bag, and press out as much air as possible. If mold grows on it, the silage is ruined and should never be fed to your animals.

Depending on the animals that you are making silage for, you will need different plant materials. Crops suitable for silage are non-leguminous fodder crops rich in soluble carbohydrates, such as maize, oats, sorghum, pearl millet, and cultivated grasses are most suitable for ensiling. Materials can be grasses, legumes, fodder crops (sorghum, maize), crop residues or by-products. These items need to be harvested in the young age, before flowering, to help ensure that you have enough sugars for proper fermentation.

And don't forget your tree and shrub fodder. Just restrict the amount of tannins. And be cautious of the type of plants you are harvesting for your animals. Tannins has been shown to help with worm problems in sheep and goats, still restrict the amounts though.

If you are growing legumes, harvest leaves before your dry season, allow them to dry in the shade, then mix in with your silage.

If you wish to do it on a slightly larger scale, a pit works good for storage as well (cover with black plastic and weight it down with tires), as does a buried deep freezer. Place your silage in it in layers, then walk on it, pressing the silage down removing as much air as possible. Keep it cool and dry (plastic and weights work here as well).

Be sure that the fodder you are saving hasn't been sprayed with herbicides or insecticides.

Come winter, you can feed a nice nutritional "fresh" meal to all your lovely critters.

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