Silage: What You Need to Know in 2021
In the 1970s, hay was the feedstuff of choice for many farmers across the UK. Over 80% of the grass preserved in the UK was hay, but, by the 1990s, it had been superseded by silage.
Often reserved for sheep and cattle feed, silage is an excellent solution for feeding animals during the winter months. Once constructed into either square or round bales, it can be stored in airtight conditions, with no previous drying beforehand.
But, what is silage? How can it be best utilised for your livestock? Here’s everything you need to know:
What is Silage?
Silage is a type of animal fodder that’s made from fermented grass.
Grasses and other pasture crops – like rye and maise – are cut, fermented, compressed and kept until they’re ready to be fed to livestock. As it’s stored with plenty of moisture, the product retains a higher percentage of its natural nutrients (when compared to other feedstuffs – like hay). During the winter months (or other dry periods when the pasture is of lower quality), it can help keep cattle and sheep in good health.
How Many Days Are There Before Silage Can Be Fed?
Once silage has been collected and constructed into bales, removing and keeping oxygen out is critical. Fermentation has to happen under anaerobic conditions, meaning that you should keep it airtight for as long as possible (whether that’s by sealing it with plastic, or keeping it in a barn or silo).
Ideally, it would be best if you left a silage clamp closed for at least four weeks. Once oxygen penetrates the product, anaerobic digestion will be disrupted and hamper the product’s nutritional value. If you think you may need to use silage within a few days of closing the clamp, we would recommend keeping smaller bales available, so as to not disrupt your whole yield.
Types of Feed (Silage and Other Feedstuffs)
The demand for the livestock industry has dramatically increased in recent years, with the need for different feedstuffs varying throughout the year. While silage is generally compiled for use with the cattle or sheep, farmers can use straw for both bedding and feed.
Here at AWSM Farming, we offer a full service, which includes the delivery of bales, and feed (including unloading and stacking, where needed.) Each type of feed will provide your livestock with varying levels of nutrients and energy. As with any animal, a balanced diet is vital; food should offer everything needed to remain healthy, while also maintaining welfare.