Sunday, October 1, 2023
Home Farming Tips How To Prepare Silage

How To Prepare Silage

by Jacquiline Nakandi
0 comment


Forage for cattle feeding include maize, grasses and legumes. Once there is excess food for the animals, the farmer can easily forage to preserve it for future use.

A rule of thumb for harvesting forage is; the more mature a crop is, the lower the nutrients it has. This is because as the crop matures, it has less leafy content and harder parts, for example, a stronger stem resulting in lower nutrients.

Therefore, it is important that a farmer harvests the crop at the right time. The fibre content increases with maturity and it is unsuitable as it has lower palatability, so a farmer is likely to witness lower intake by the cows.

Mature forage is also less digestible and has a lower protein content level.


Wilting is the process of reducing moisture in harvested crops. This can be done by laying the plants against a wall or on a rack in the sun.

When wilting, it is important to remember not to wilt in thick layers as the plants in the bottom will not be exposed to the sun/heat and may lead to decomposition, undoing the silage making process.

Turning severally is also advised. The crops should be wilted to around 30% dry matter. A simple test to determine whether maize is wilted enough is to chop the maize to 3cm length and squeeze in your hand.

If there is moisture, but no water dripping and it does not return to its original form quickly, then the crop is ready to be turned into silage. Some farmers smash the nodes and stems to quicken the wilting rate.


The wilted crop is chopped using a hand shear or forage chopper to lengths of about 3cm for several reasons:

  • Having shorter chop lengths allows for better silage making. This is because longer chop lengths are more difficult to compress and displace the air within the crop, especially the stems, which are hard and hence more difficult to compress, resulting in losses in the silage making process.
  • Reports show that livestock, especially young ones, consume more with shorter length forages as compared to longer ones and more consumption of good quality forages usually results in higher milk production.


Add fermentable substrate and compact. Each farmer handles this stage differently. There are those who prefer spreading molasses or maize bran on the chopped crop as they compact it, while others prefer to compact as is, especially in silage.

Here some farmers ensile their maize without molasses, opting to utilise the natural sugars in the maize plant. Whichever way you take, compacting must be done well and thoroughly.

It can be done in plastic tubes, a silage pit or above ground. The objective is to expel as much air as possible and to maintain the condition as is without allowing air inside the silo.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

Download Vision Group Experience App

Follow Us

All Rights Reserved © Harvest Money 2023