|Regenerative Agriculture Technologies for the Hill Farmers of Nepal: An Information Kit (IIRR, 1992, 210 p.)|
|Livestock and fodder|
Silage is green fodder which has been allowed to partially ferment in a sealed pit or plastic bag, in which air is not allowed to enter.
· Has high nutrient
· Can be stored for long period
· Provides livestock feed when other feed is scarce, e.g., winter
1. Dig a pit, which should be only as large as the amount of fodder you have to put in it. Plaster the floor and sides of the pit with mud. The pit should be located on a hill side with a water diversion trench dug on the upland side at the pit.
2. Chop the green stalks of maize, millet or green grass into lengths of 2-4 inches. Place them in the pit. Compact the stalks with a stick so they are well-packed.
3. When the pit is densely filled to about 6 inches above ground level, cover the chopped stalks with two layers of whole length stalks at right angles to each other. Then cover with plastic and seal with earth so air cannot enter. If you do not have plastic, spread earth thickly on top of the whole stalks and ram it down firm. Finally plaster clay on top of the soil making a slight mound to prevent water from entering the pit. If water enters the pit, the silage will be spoiled.
4. After at most two months, you can open the pit and feed the silage to your livestock. In warm climates, one month may be enough.
Note: Once you open the pit, you cannot close it again until all the silage is used. If the amount of forage is too much to be used before spoiling, smaller pits should be used in order to reduce the amount of silage in each batch.
HINTS FOR FEEDING
Add salt to the fodder. This will allow you to feed as much salt as you would normally feed your livestock. Mix the silage with dry fodder, especially when the cattle are first getting used to the taste.
Your animals may not like the silage at first; but this is only because it is a new food. Mix in some green fodder or leguminous feeds in the beginning until they get used to the taste. Soon they will grow to love it!
Note: Silage is especially good for pregnant animals to improve the quality of these residues.
SOME OTHER METHODS OF UTILIZING CROP RESIDUES
About 51% nutrients are provided to ruminants, particularly cattle and buffaloes, from crop residues such as rice, wheat, and millet straws and maize stalks for at least 5 to 6 months a year. However, the amount of nutrients available from such crop residues are not efficiently utilised mainly due to lack of knowledge on how to improve the quality of these residues. Consequently, animals fed on crop residues either lose weight or have lower production performance.
There are methods available to improve the quality of crop residues. Pretreatments can improve digestibility and increase intake. Some methods that are commonly practiced and have positive response in production performance are listed below:
1. Mixing of straws with water
2. Chaffing the straw
3. Chaffing followed by mixing of chaffed material with water
4. Urea treatment of straw (in a water solution of 5% Urea)
5. Biological pre-treatment of straw (such as composting, silaging, use of fungus and use of enzymes)
6. Combining legume crop residues with straw to improve straw digestibility and nutrient utilization.