Silage-making is an essential technique for preserving wet forage without degrading its nutritional value. It has been highly appreciated by farmers who use various additives, including enzymes, sugars and molasses.
In this article, we will discuss another kind of black gold – the same stuff our grandmothers used in her baking and cooking and the role that quality silage wraps play in good silaging.
Molasses is not just for cooking sweet treats for your kids. They can play a role in providing good quality feed for your farm animals.
Molasses can be mixed with silage as an additive to compensate for low carbohydrate levels or can be added as a cover for open silage pits to prevent spoilage. In both cases, adding molasses can make silage more useful and better food.
Most of the silage begins as a partially matured crop. Ideally, the hay, corn, or other source plant is cut and chopped when its moisture content is between 60 and 70%. Barley, oats, wheat, alfalfa, corn, and various herbs and legumes are commonly used for silage. Once cut and chopped, the silage is stored in large open pits covered by good quality silage wrap or stored in silage bags.
When the silage is stored, it is compacted and covered with silage wrap, so that very little air enters. It deprives naturally occurring bacteria of oxygen. It is, thus, a good reason why it is imperative to buy silage wrap of the highest quality.
The bacteria then break down some of the carbohydrates in the silage anaerobically. It means that they consume sugars in the silage to live but without oxygen. The products of this reaction are lactic acid and acetic acid. When silage is stored for the first time, it has a slightly acidic pH of about 6.5. After about 21 days, the acid production of the bacteria makes the pH of the silage too acidic. The bacterium becomes inactive and stops producing acid when the pH reaches about 4.0. At this point, the pH will remain stable, and if nothing happens, the pH of the silage will change very little. Most organisms that cause silage decomposition will stop working under these conditions. It keeps the silage for months.
Molasses is an excellent additive for silage because it has precisely what lactic acid bacteria need: readily fermentable carbohydrates. The large amount of energy contained in the molasses provides additional fuel to produce lactic acid and increases the overall food energy content of the silage. Molasses also contains 3 to 5% protein and many essential nutrients, including potassium, sulphur, iron and manganese.
The use of molasses as a fermenting agent does not create waste either, as it remains in the fodder during feeding.
Thus, molasses is not just for yummy cookies. It can also help you make better silage.
To improve aerobic stability and double up its nutritional quality, only buy silage wrap of the best quality.