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Poster 1.2: Silage making activities of the Department of Veterinary Services, Malaysia - F.Y. Chin and A.B. Idris

F. Y. Chin and A.B. Idris

Department of Veterinary Services

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

E-mail: [email protected]

The Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) in Malaysia undertakes silage making as a form of fodder conservation. This activity has been pursued since the 1960s. Silage crops include grasses, maize and forage sorghum varieties. Silos include horizontal ground types, such as wooden and concrete bunkers, earthen trenches and surface stacks. Receptacles such as plastic bags and drums are also used for silage making. Mechanized film wrapping of small, round, grass bales to produce “silawrapped” grass silage is also carried out.

Horizontal silos have been used for grass, maize and forage sorghum ensilage activities. These horizontal silos consist mainly of above-ground wooden bunkers, surface stacks and below-ground earthen trenches. Bunker silos range in size from the small-scale, 4-m square, wooden walled type, to large-scale, permanent, twin-walled, concrete bunkers, measuring 13 m × 5 m, with walls 125 to 175 cm high. Silage making activities with the larger, twin-walled bunkers are highly mechanized. Forage harvesters, both tractor-mounted bin and tractor-drawn wagon types, as well as tipper lorries, are used for harvesting, transporting and filling of the silage stores. Packing and compaction is achieved by the pressure of the wheels of a heavy-duty tractor, driven systematically over the heap. Permanent concrete bunkers are available on several livestock farms for ensilage work. Earthen trench-type silos, constructed through earth excavation, have dimensions of 20 m × 5 m. Since these trench silos are normally located on sloping ground, they usually have a depth of about 3 m at the closed end, decreasing to zero at the open end. The stack silage system was successfully used at the DVS training institute farm between 1983 and 1985. Four hundred tonnes of grass silage from signal grass (Brachiaria decumbens), Kazungula grass (Setaria sphacelata cv Kazungula), Guinea grass (Panicum maximum) and Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) were produced using this method during that period.

In 1985 and 1986, production of silage in small, round, concrete, tower-type silos, using forage sorghum (e.g. cvs Sugargraze and Jumbo), maize and Napier grass, was carried out in the northern part of the country. Dairy farmers in the area, which experiences an annual dry period, have been encouraged to conserve fodder in the form of silage to ensure year-round forage availability. Each small tower silo, of 2-m diameter and 3-m height, was capable of ensiling 10 t of fresh material, which resulted in about 7.5 t of silage. During the two-year programme, 250 t of forage sorghum silage, 66 t of maize silage and 30 t of Napier grass silage were produced.

Increasingly, local crop residues, such as sweet corn stovers and oil-palm fronds, are being used as forage and roughage feed following ensilage. Currently, sweet corn stover silage is being produced using container-type silos consisting of plastic drums and plastic bags. Since the inception of the corn stover ensilage programme in 1994, an estimated 400 t of sweet corn stover silage have been produced for feeding farmers’ cattle. Farmers involved in integration of cattle with oil palm have also been encouraged to ensile chopped oil palm fronds in plastic drums to supplement grazing wherever there is a problem of insufficiency of understorey forage. Ensilage in plastic drums has become a popular method of making silage in the country, as the drums are convenient for filling, packing, sealing, handling and feeding-out. Silage making involving mechanized “silawrapping” of small round bales was introduced in 1991. This method of silage production, which involves mainly grasses, has been undertaken on three ruminant farms, as well as on reserve grazing land. Annually, about 500 bales of “silawrapped” silage, equivalent to 15 t, have been produced to feed cattle and sheep during the dry season. To date, production of about 290 t of such “silawrapped” silage has been achieved.

The DVS ensilage work has also involved cultivating a crop of maize on a freshly sown signal grass pasture and harvesting the mixture for ensilage. It successfully tested the concept of cultivating maize as a one-off silage crop on newly developed or redeveloped pasture fields, before the latter were permanently used for grazing. The concept aims at maximizing the usefulness of land being developed or redeveloped for permanent grazing.

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