Silage can assure year-round supply of livestock feed
Our friend Eugene T. Gabriel is very excited about a German-made rice and corn harvesting machine that his crew of fabricators has modified so that it can also harvest and shred forage at the same time. Gabriel is the president of Central Isabela Agri Manufacturing Corporation (CIAMC) which has been coming up with practical farming implements.
What excites him is the opportunity to make money while providing cheap and nutritious feed for livestock that include beef and dairy cattle, carabaos, goats, sheep, pigs and others. Because the forage harvester can harvest a big quantity in just a few hours of operation, Eugene believes he can make a lot of silage for sale to livestock raisers. The modified machine is being further field tested to make sure it meets the standard set by a certifying body based in UP Los Baños.
There are imported forage harvesting machines but they cost a fortune. If the modified rice harvester can perform satisfactorily, cutting the forage and shredding the same at the same time, it will be a big boost to commercial silage production.
Silage, by the way, is grass and other green forage that are fermented in airtight containers that could be plastic drums, sacks lined with plastic, or a trench in the ground. Diluted molasses is sprinkled on the materials to enhance fermentation. Some also add beneficial microorganisms. What is important is that the forage materials are not exposed to air.
Silage making is not new. In fact, as a young man more than fifty years ago, we used to make silage in our veterinarian cousin’s ranch. Although silage-making is an old technique, not many farmers have adopted it for one reason or another. Maybe, they are not aware of the benefits of making silage for livestock feed.
Actually, silage offers a lot of benefits for animal raisers. It can ensure continuous supply of feed year-round. That is because silage can be stored for long periods without spoiling.
Animals love to eat silage because it is very palatable. Fermentation makes its nutrients more easily absorbed by the animals. It has a very desirable sweetish smell. Fermentation is very simple. Molasses diluted with a little water is simply applied to the silage materials. As early as 15 days from ensiling, the materials can already be fed