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Silage

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Definitions

Silage is a type of feed for farm livestock. It is created by fermenting green forage crops through the process of acidification, which occurs by depriving the forage material of oxygen. The fermentation chemically converts carbohydrates into alcohols or acids. This process helps create a year round livestock food source from a field that may only produce crops in certain seasons.

Silage can be made from a variety of crop types including grass, corn, oats, peas, alfalfa, and others. Once these materials have been harvested they are collected and bundled or placed in a silo. They key factor is that oxygen must be eliminated during storage.

[edit] Process

Quality of silage is dependent upon a few key factors: the stage of maturity of the forage at the time of harvest, the type of fermentation that occurs while in the silo or bunker, the type of storage structure used, and methods of harvesting and feeding.[1]

During the fermentation process, specific bacteria are required to break down cellulose and hemicelluloses to various simple sugars. Other bacteria break those simple sugars down to smaller end products like acetic, lactic and butyric acids. Quality fermentation will have a high content of acetic and lactic acid. This will create a more palatable and digestible feed, which in turn provides improved animal performance.[2]

[edit] References

  1. Schroeder, J.W. Silage Fermentation and Preservation. Ag.NDSU.edu, June, 2004. (accessed: 2008-09-30)
  2. Schroeder, J.W. Silage Fermentation and Preservation. Ag.NDSU.edu, June, 2004. (accessed: 2008-09-30)

[edit] External Links