The Relevance of Silage to AFIA Members And how to get it more right if you are in the game….because we as a nation are CRAP AT SILAGE. Its too mature and too dry
Why would you as an AFIA member be into silage ? Its a hay organisation right ? ( oh OK, silage is fodder for sure !)
1- You make and trade It : Ideally you are cutting early, to conserve the best low maturity fodder, that makes premium silage, the most animal output, and you get a premium for your efforts Or…You see a big front coming and want to wrap it before it fully curred down Or…Its already wet and you wrap it before its snot
2- You are serving, advising and working for a client Ideally you are cutting early, to conserve the best low maturity fodder, that makes premium silage, the most animal output, and you get a premium for your efforts Or…You see a big front coming and want to wrap it before it fully curred down Or…Its already wet and you wrap it before its snot
3- Spread your season and utalisation Silage often gets going earlier than hay, that is good. Early silage( quality) gets going earlier …spreads the work load a bit Hay runs till Xmas or there abouts Summer crop pit silages ( maize / sorghum) run well after Xmas….that is spreading it further Just more work overall in a season
The upsides ! Quality and animal performance, based on earlier cutting date and less maturity Flexability earlier in a season or with a higher moisture
The down sides ! It costs more than hay to make silage It is a lot more tricky with extra steps and risks to go wrong If selling it, You transport water around the countryside on a truck…silage is less smart on a truck
General Forage Conservation : Some principles apply in both silage and hay production: centrally….plant maturity is crucial to outcomes A huge pile of hay or silage may lend a warm inner glow, but does it make any money if its crap? Would I rather 300T of good fodder or 500T of rubbish ? Lets stick it in front of 100 Beef steers at 300kg
The seasonal progression Feed type Better silage/hay Worse silage/hay ME9.58.2 NDF%5065 ADF%3645 $/t1130100
The numbers on 300kg steer growth Hay typeOKPoor Intake KGDM/d75.5 Energy intake6645 Growth rate g/d52070 Days to gain 50kg96700 Kg Feed/kg gain1377
300T of good vs 500T poor hay/silage FCR = 13kg feed per 1kg meat gained 300,000kg/ 13=23,000 kg weight gain $46,000 of weight with input of 300T at $130/t = $39,000 +$7000 FCR = 77 kg feed per 1kg meat gained 500,000/77 =6450 kg weight gain $12,900 of weight with input of 500T at $100/t = $50,000 -$37,000
The Outcome in $ Beef Feed Good OK Poor Growth rate g/d130052070 % of feed making meat 56%31%3% Kg Feed/kg gain6.8 13 77 Feed cents/kg101010 Cost to gain1kg$0.68$1.30$7.70 (So how good is that overly mature bulk of hay or silage now )
WHAT EVER YOU CUT :CUT FOR QUALITY NOT CRAP Quality drives production, volume is a false economy and false confidence If you need crap, buy straw.That is often there, you can nearly always find crap if you need If cutting things in your control…cut early and cut quality. Its harder to BUY quality
The special wonders of silage (and a few extra challenges)
Some comments on silage The british and northern Europeans or some bugger invented it to do forage when hay was impossible… you reckon Victoria is wet and cold. Think of Ireland and Scotland mate ! Gives the ability to Cut early in the season for quality without 5 dry days. Wilting helps for sure, but dont cut late just to get a wilt….no one in Ireland has real vision of getting a big wilt, but they make good silage still
Cut early and compact the billy-oh out of it with a big tractor, water in the wheels and just singles not duels…its about weight driving down to get rid of oxygen. Compaction is king Time of cut drives maturity, thus compactability and thus performance and preservation in the end…not just Nutrients from a less mature fodder Better feed quality and less spoilage risk : Cool
What makes good silage outcomes 1- Time of cut, not mature (we can put this into numbers) 2- Good fermentation (we can put this into numbers) 3- Managing secondary fermentation 4- managing toxins production 5- Low wastage at feed out
Silage follows same rules of nutrients as other fodders, + some Hay and pasture quality can be measured with protein, ME, NDF...all pretty straight forward, and about maturity as we said Silage needs those numbers, but it needs more to measure how it ferments and pickles and preserves...and feeds out ! Intake, energy yield etc all impacted by these more unusual paremeters
Some extra parameters Dry matter: aim 30-40% pit 35-45% bales pH: aim 4.0-4.7 (How stable) Lactic acid: aim over 5% (the preserving acid) Acetic acid: aim low (under 2%, wrong acid) L:A ratio : aim high is best, at least over 3:1 Ammonia: aim low, under 1% (protein good quality,not degraded) WSC: more is better, aim for 5-15%. Sugars! Butyric: Any is bad, aim for zero !
Good silage tests, with only hay numbers Silage number1234 NDF%46395048 Protein19171720 TreatmentInnocinnoc.Innocnothing All look pretty good on the face of it, based on maturity as it were !
Silage number1234 NDF%46395048 Protein19171720 TreatmentInnocinnoc.Innocnothing Silage parameters Dry matter%30364025* pH4.294.04.35.1 Lactic%6.878.614.032.78 Acetic%3.390.970.436.20 Lac/Acet ratio2.038.919.370.45 Ammonia%0.930.250.352.4% WSC%9.611.6156.5 Good silage tests- watch your dry matter even with good forage
The two big things that I reckon commonly make it damn hard to get it right 1- Excess maturity: less sugars to ferment to acid, more fibre and lignin to impede compaction ( less than 50% NDF ) 2- Too dry: If we want bugs to grow and ferment, it needs to be damp enough to grow bugs properly ( 25-35% DM for pit, 35-40% Bale)
Silage NDF or Maturity or difficulty to compact or oxygen retained Silage Dry Matter The right tool for your silage type, inoculants are not always the optimal tool in Australia
If you know its not silage gear….ponder on how you manage risk Knowledge on this simple wee matrix makes things more clear Probably half the time preservatives are a better bet than innoculants, as it was never going to ferment and all we can hope is to ensure spoilage doesnt occur…as that brings on a whole raft of further challenges Or do it as hay !!!!
Understand the process ! Silage is complex, and we can cock it up in nearly all the ways we can cock up hay…and then some extra ones ! 6 stages of silage management are generally seen….yep 6!!!
Stage1- Aerobic run down Still air in stack/bale Aerobic oxidation = heat gain Short pahse, just a fewe hours with good delivery and compaction If longer = more spoilage risk as mould and yeast persist with air pH still high
Stage2- Air gone. Fermentation starts Heterofermenters kick in, eg Enterobacteria and Peddicocci. Handle the high pH and the heat. Acid starts forming from plant sugars Acetic and lactic acid Lasts 1-3 days as things kick off Gets pH down to about pH 5
Stage3: Transition to full fermentation Transition to proper lactic acid bugs and more good strong acid. Enterobacteria die back with pH drop Change occurs over 1-2 days as bug populations in the forage change
Stage4- Classic period of lactic acid accumulation If we get it right, we get ongoing conversion of sugars to lactic acid in a stable bug population. Terminal pH determined by sugars on offer, moisture and natural acid buffering ( eg legumes !) Terminal pH doesnt mean it GOT THERE IDEALLY…but its a guide !
Stage 5- Its stable silage Its now pickled grass ! No oxygen, lots of acid no spoilage bugs as they cant live with the acid or without the oxygen Cooler now too
Stage6- Feed out and oxygen penetration again Oxygen is back in, and with that comes potential spoilage agin Yeasts can live on lactic acid ! Manage the pit face …clean face not crusty guys ! Potential for L buchneri or L Brevis to help. Like wise preservatives
Whats important Get in it fast Get it in tight Get it immature enough to compact Get it in immature enough to have some sugars Get it in with some moisture Pack the crap out of it
What do innoculants do if they then ? If you can get a fermentation going they get the bug numbers growing and get the pH down to terminal pH faster…and some times at a bit lower pH This can be a really good thing I assure you ! L. Buchneri or L Brevis both impede re growth of spoilage bugs when we feed out the bale or open the pit Silage stays cooler after opening All innoculants are not the same !!
FERMENTATION PROFILE Dont just assume its about lactic acid bugs…remember they are about stage 3 of the bugs in action !
Secondary Fermentation After opening, microbes come back and grow, consuming further nutrients Silage heats at the face Lactic acid can be a food for some ! Mould growth and toxin production can then occur AFTER the pit is opened Undoes some good work Manage your face carefully
Mycotoxins: a common problem if we get silage wrong All about oxygen,with oxygen comes problems from mould and fungi With this comes possible toxins Take home point…no mould is OK mould ! If you have it, then look at Mycotoxin management products eg Elitox = 6c/day My arvo today- Cobram Vets with Dodgy sorghum silage. Lets count how it went wrong !!
Major Classes of Fungi and related Mycotoxin groups MOLDCOLORTOXIN PRODUCERCOMMENTS PenicilliumGreen to green -blue Yes - Ochratoxin, Citrinin, PatulinSeveral potential toxins associated with certain species. Most common toxin producer in silage. AspergillusYellow- green Yes - Aflatoxin, OchratoxinFound in drought, heat-stressed conditions or insect infested fields. FusariumWhite to pinkis h- white Yes- Zearalenone, Vomitoxin (DON), T-2 Toxin, Fumonism Common in cold, wet seasons. Certain strains produce extremely potent toxins. MucorWhite/grayNoneFound especially in sealed corn. Grows at low temperatures. Also found in manures and soils. RhizopusBlack/whit e NoneRequires high moisture and an advanced decay mold. Common bread mold. CladosporiumWhiteNoneProduces yeast like symptoms. Grows at low temperatures. Reference: Dr. Bill Mahanna, "Prevention And (If Necessary) Management of Moldy Silage." Mould colours in conserved forage
Interpretation Guidelines for Mold Counts Mold Count Guideline 10 - 10,000*Relatively Safe 10,000 - 100,000*Transition Zone 100,000 - 10,000,000*Caution Advised Over 10,000,000*Feeding may not be recommended * col/gm (colonies per gram) Danger levels for Mould growth- a context for risk
Favoured temperature ranges for moulds that make Mycotoxins Aflatoxins Zearalenone Don T2
Some Innovation That I think is handy 1- Understanding what product type has a application when ( not just… maaate… I noculated it mate !) Use the right stuff …..some times an innoculant, some times a preservative…some times just dont do it as silage !!!
2-Understand which innoculants are well designed You can spend from $2-5/t You cant judge value by cost alone, but dont just use lactic acid bacteria Understand what will get things going properly Understand what seems to manage secondary fermentation better
FERMENTATION PROFILE Dont just assume its about lactic acid bugs…remember they are about stage 3 of the bugs in action !
Understand the counts You are looking for numbers of bugs basically, more is essentially better 8 X 10 to power 8 = a ride on mower 8 X 10 to power 10 = a bloody good tractor The 10 bit is the important bit...not the first number
ROLE OF ENZYME COCKTAIL Silage has a pH in the region of 4.0 Enzymes for silage need to have an optimum pH between 3.5 and 4.5 to be effective. Most are not. Enzymes can have beneficial effects but need to be applied evenly with the inoculant. Enzymes work slowly and need time to have an effect. This is typically 30 – 60 days.
Micron, in collaboration with Professor Roy Fawcett at the University of Edinburgh has: - 1.Determined the quantity of enzyme required to add nutritional value to the silage. 2.Determined the nature and formulation of those enzymes. 3.Described a new enzyme and included it the latest products. 4. Formulated a crop specific range of enzyme packages based upon fibre types and levels. ENZYME RESEARCH
Enzymes Improve Digestibility by Breaking Fibre Bonds
FORAGE CONDITIONING 12% 33% 21% 19% P<0.01 Paired T test (one tailed)
Enzymes driven on Biofuels If we have big cellulytic fermenters like in EU, enzymes will make energy production more efficent That makes BIG BIG companies get involved eg DUPONT and the petrochemical dudes It will help silage making…go figuare !!!
4- Better covering wrap Keeps oxygen out better …simple, boring but important Better people than me to explain it