How to produce quality silage for cattle?

How to produce silage

The livestock feed is made up basically of roughage and concentrates. The big challenge in the supply of roughage, composed of vegetable fibers, is the regular supply throughout the year due to the scarcity of foliage during the dry season. In this sense, silage acts as an essential substitute to complement pasture feeding for the herd. And that is why many ranchers seek to understand how to produce quality silage on the property. Is this your case?  

The use of hay is essential to ensure the efficiency of livestock rearing throughout the year. After all, maintaining a balanced supply of nutrients must be part of the nutritional program to increase milk production and, consequently, greater profitability. 

However, to know how to produce silage, it is necessary to have the best ingredients, the correct techniques, and proper planning. 

Continue reading this article and understand more about this subject! 

Silage composition and its importance

In general, we can say that silage is food that results from the fermentation of forages stored in silos by bacteria. This process is called ensilage. This process must be done with the forage plant cut at the right time and then compacted in the silos that will later be sealed. 

If all steps are carried out correctly, its nutritional value is similar to that of green forage. In addition to being an alternative to pasture, it is also excellent for feeding confined cattle. 

The primary forage plants used in the composition of the silage are: 

  • Corn, sorghum, sunflower, and millet; 
  • Sugar cane; 
  • Brachiaria; 
  • Elephant grass; 
  • Mombasa, Tanzania, Colony, and Tobiathan

The production of silage on the property can bring benefits such as: 

  • Maintain a more significant number of animals per unit of land;
  • Assist in maximizing or maintaining production, especially in times of drought;
  • Have well-nourished animals; 
  • Provides storage of a large volume of food in a small space.

How to produce hay on the property? 

Firstly, to understand how to produce good quality hay, it is necessary to understand several processes. If executed with quality, it will reflect on the increase in milk production of the herd. 

For this reason, we can say that a good milk producer is also a good farm manager; after all, the excellent quality of the hay depends on a good crop and a fair silage process. 

In the following, we will explain each of the steps on how to produce quality hay for the herd. 

Planning

Planning is essential to measure production costs and risks. It is necessary to keep in mind the need to allocate tractors, mowers, trucks, and personnel to supply your farm’s demand. 

It is important to note that silage production cannot be thought of only in the dry season when animals need food. But instead, as an entire year planning as a way to increase productivity. 

The importance of soil

The plantation of forages needs to absorb nutrients in the correct form and quantity to guarantee its quality. That is why periodic soil analysis should be done to make corrections when necessary. 

It is also essential to nourish the soil with microelements that guarantee that the silage produced will meet the herd’s demands. And of course, dopest and weed control. 

More than that, once you know the soil, you will choose the plantation that will best develop according to these characteristics.

Care for the crop

To reach its maximum potential, the silo needs quality raw material. After all, even if the silage is done correctly, a low nutritional value input will not contain nitrogen and potassium. 

After soil preparation, planting should be done observing climatic factors of humidity and temperature. Planting usually takes place at the beginning of the rainy season, from September to November.

Harvest time

The time of harvest is one of the crucial points in the entire silage production process. All silage quality and productivity depend on this step is well executed. After all, harvesting at the right time improves the nutritional value by providing sugars necessary for bacteria to carry out fermentation.  

Usually, the cut-off point occurs around the 30th day after flowering. In corn and forage, the cut occurs when the ear has 2/3 of the milk line (between 30% to 35% DM) or with 70% of accumulated starch. 

Sealing and silage

This is one of the most critical moments in the entire process. It is necessary to ensure suitable packaging, storage, and sealing practices to correct fermentation. Compaction aims to remove as much oxygen as possible to enhance fermentation and, consequently, silage quality. 

Silage Removal

Reaching the final stage of the process, attention is needed to avoid unnecessary losses. At this point, it is essential to discard 15 cm of the silage surface as this is where unwanted fungi and bacteria are found. Then, the hay removed must be supplied to the herd as quickly as possible, never leaving overnight between the cattle’s removal and feeding.

Summary of Stages of silage production

  • May and June – Pasture soil analysis and fertilizer application
  • September – Withdrawal of animals from the pasture to regrow grass and form straw
  • October – Desiccant herbicide application
  • November – Direct planting of corn and two cover fertilizations
  • December – Spraying for pest control
  • February and March – Harvest and silage

Therefore, following all these steps is essential to ensure good quality and correct nutrition for the herd. 

What should a dairy cattle corral look like? Find out here!

The construction of the dairy cattle corral is a very important step in the planning of a property and it requires a lot of attention and care.

The construction of the dairy cattle corral is an essential step in planning a property, and it requires a lot of attention and care. The place must be designed to offer maximum safety to the animals, minimize their stress, and facilitate handling.

Also, they must offer the highest labor efficiency so as not to generate productive losses. With so many confinement types, how do I know which is the best corral project for my flock? 

The choice is directly related to the type of breeding system and the purpose of the exploration. To help you understand better, in this text, we will address the importance of having an adequate structure to raise dairy cattle and explain how the corral should be. 

Follow our tips, and learn how to create the best corral for dairy cattle

How should the corral be?

In planning the dairy farm facilities, many factors must be taken into account. Generally, construction requires a high investment, so once ready, it is worth paying attention to rational management to avoid losses.

But, before building, be aware of some factors that can maximize your investment:

Location

To choose the best location, it is necessary to consider the geographical orientation, the behavior of the winds, access to the location, the type of soil, and the position within the terrain. The best option is the center of the property, as it facilitates access and management. 

The chosen place must be dry, firm, not subject to erosion, and preferably flat. It is not acceptable to be close to rivers and lakes, as water contamination can occur with the corral waste. However, it is necessary to have a good water source to hydrate the animals and clean the place. 

Calculate the dimensions

The number of animals that will be kept in the corral must be taken into account to calculate the dimensions. The average space for each cattle is 2 square meters. 

It is also necessary to consider the other improvements attached to the corral, such as paddocks, corrals, and pickup sleeves, which facilitate handling and access. 

Land preparation

After choosing the best location, it’s time to prepare the land by cleaning it. To do this, you must make a circle and leave it free of vegetation and debris.

To facilitate the drainage of rainwater and prevent mud formation at the busiest points, it is recommended to move the earth where the corral will be built. The movement must be from the outside to the inside until a round surface with 2% inclination is obtained. Then, a layer of gravel must be compacted to the site and nearby.

Corral marking and recommendations

After going through all the previous steps, it is necessary to mark the corral position, taking into account the ease of access and the sunstroke. Many factors have already been considered in the choice of location. To reinforce, the corral’s ideal position is the east-west orientation, in its largest axis. This will prevent further sun penetration into the sides of the building. 

Before starting the actual construction, it is worth making markings with piles to visualize any problem that may appear in the development. The marking must start to be made by the shed, brete, containment trunk, and the apartment. External fences, gates, and subdivisions (vaccination corridors, rooms for veterinary use, etc.) will be marked later.

An interesting tip is to use a floor plan to visualize the place and facilitate the demarcation and construction. The choice of raw materials for the corral construction and fences must also be made with great care. It is necessary to consider the animals’ safety, the quality of the materials, and the cost/benefit. 

For those who want a lasting construction, it is essential to invest in resistant materials. In addition to specialized and qualified professionals to create the project, ensure the work’s smooth progress, and avoid future problems. 

What should be taken into account when planning facilities?

There are many types of pens, but the main concern is to create safe, comfortable, and healthy environments for animals. Therefore, the right corral for dairy cattle must be:

  • Broad;
  • Airy;
  • With right spots of natural and artificial light; 
  • Easy to clean;
  • With protection against rain and intense sun;
  • Have a ventilated and relaxed rest area;
  • With trough space suitable for the number of animals;
  • Have space for animals to walk;
  • Have drinking fountains with clean and freshwater;
  • Comfortable floor and beds.

In other words, the facilities must meet all the needs of the animals, also complying with safety, health, and environmental control laws.

Why is it essential to have a suitable structure for dairy cattle?

By investing in an adequate structure for the dairy cattle, it is possible to provide maximum comfort to the animals. This helps the owner to obtain a great return since they will better express their genetic potential. 

Also, a well-planned structure allows for rational exploration within the economic and managerial aspects. It also maximizes the use of labor, machinery, and equipment.

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