How to make silage at home

This is the full guide to answer your question how to make silage at home. By the end of this article you will be able to fully learn how to make silage at home and all your questions about silage making will be answered. Before making silage these are some of the common questions you have been asking yourself:

  • What crops can be used to make silage?
  • How long until silage is ready
  • Can you make silage from grass clippings?
  • Is silage better than hay?
  • What is the difference between hay and silage?
  • Which is cheaper silage or hay?
  • Which crop is best for silage making
  • Why does silage smell?
  • How can you tell if your silage is good?

What is silage?

Silage: is a type of fodder made from green foliage crops which have been preserved by acidification, achieved through fermentation. It can be fed to cattle, sheep and other such ruminants (cud-chewing animals). Silage is usually made from grass crops including maize, sorghum or other cereals. Silage can also be made from many field crops

Why make silage/ importance of silage making

There are various reasons why you should make your own silage as a farmer. Whether you are a dairy farmer, sheep farmer or just a business person, silage making has many importance

  • Silage improves animal production farmers have confirmed that silage has enhanced their milk production and improved their livestock health
  • Silage is a quality feed
  • Silage is a great substitute in times of inadequate feeds mostly January to April when there is little or no rainfall
  • Silage is less affected by weather change
  • There are very many crop varieties of making silage


1st STEP

Make a shallow pit on a ground area with sloping terrain and ensure it is sloping inside from the higher to lower side in a wedge like shape. The size of the shallow pit you are making will depend on the amount of silage you are willing to make, in a snippet you can use this measurement to make your pit: 2cubic meter pit holds 1000 kilograms or 20 bags of fresh chopped forage materials. This will also take approximately 2000 liters of molasses and 10 meters of polythene sheeting

2nd STEP

The forage to be ensilaged either maize, grass or any other forage material should be chopped to the length of about 1inch using a panga. Remember to chop the forage uniformly.

3rd STEP

This is the step where you carefully insert the polythene into the pit to cover ground and side area this is with aim of avoiding the forage to get in contact with the soil.

After doing this you can now empty 1 bag of forage onto the pit covered by polythene and spread uniformly. Repeat this process until you have filled the pit to 1/3 full

4th STEP

After you have filled your pit with forage up to 1/3 full now it’s time to add molasses to the forage, the measurement for this is; 1 liter of molasses with 3 liters of water. Sprinkle the mixture evenly to the forage. This is useful as the solution helps feed the microorganisms to make the silage acid quickly and to prevent rotting

5th STEP

Now it’s time for you to drive out air from the forage this is done by compressing the forage by either using a heavy drum or using your feet. Driving out air from the forage will prevent fungi attacking and destroying the forage. After doing this you can now repeat the process of adding the chopped forage and sprinkling it with the molasses solution while compressing until you attain a doom shape in the filled up pit.

After you have completed the process you can now cover the prepared forage with polythene to prevent water and dig in a shallow trench around the pit to drain off water.

6th STEP

Cover the pit with soil up to a layer of 24 inches in case the material used was wet and still fresh but when the material used was more dry forage, cover to 36 inches this is to protect the polythene used to cover the forage from damage.

7th STEP

The conservation of materials by microorganisms takes a couple of weeks, thereafter it can be fed. With good sheeting and enough soil on it the ready silage can be kept well for 1 to 2 years

8th STEP

Harvesting of your silage is done by uncovering the silage from the lower end where you can only remove enough material for feeding for a short period then cover the rest until it’s used up. A cow can estimate use 20 kg silage daily. Silage offers a very safe feed for dry season and ensures constant supply of milk from your dairy farm or dairy business


  • How long until silage is ready

The conservation of materials by microorganisms takes a couple of weeks, this is approximately 15 to 20 days and can be stored for a longer period of time without losing quality

  • Can you make silage from grass clippings?

Small-scale farmers can use the method of making silage from grass clippings, molasses and other fermentable carbohydrates. By using grass clippings, molasses and a more or less airtight container, small-scale farmers can make their own silage conveniently

  • What is the difference between hay and silage?

Silage is fermented and stored in silo before used as food or feeds and in Storage methods: Hay is mowed, dried and stored in bales. Silage is compacted and stored in air-tight conditions without being necessarily dried

  • Which crop is best for silage making

To achieve high-quality grass silage, it is crucial to harvest pasture grass at the preferable time of maturity (55-70% moisture content). Maize is a common silage crop wherever it can be grown successfully likewise, Silage is usually made from grass crops including maize, sorghum or other cereals. Also silage can be made from many field crops

  • How can you tell if your silage is good?

Silage of poor quality has slimy soft texture when rubbed from the fiber or leaf and contains molds. Very dry or even brittle breaking like biscuit silage shows the material ensiled had too high dry matter content and there was overheating during storage causing much detrition this can be used to determine the signs of bad silage follow the procedure above to correctly make your own silage.

  • Why does silage smell?

This is usually caused by the growth of clostridia bacteria in the silage. These organisms produce acid in forage, which smells like rancid butter. Clostridia bacteria normally live in manure and soil, and often their spores are present on forage.


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