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Dairy Farming Manual

Volume 3

Husbandry Unit 5.4  - Part 1

page 141

Extension Materials
 What should you know about silage making?
What is silage and why is silage important?(5-12)

1 You should know:
- the feed value of silage
- the importance of storing and feeding silage.

How can you make a "silo"?(13-56)

2 You should know:
- the types of silos
- how to make a suitable silo for your farm.

How do you prepare the crop and handle silage?(57-82)

3 You should know how to:
- prepare your crop and fill your silo
- seal and drain your silo
- remove silage.

How do you feed silage?(83-87)

4 You should know how to:
- make a feeder for your silage
- find the feeding value.


page 143

 What is silage?
5 Silage is cut plant material sealed in a silo without air and water.
Rainy Season
Dry season
6 You can store the silage for many months and still have good animal feed
- up to 85% of the energy and protein value of the original crop.
7 If you store the cut plant material with air and water


8 it becomes rotten material/ compost.
You can use it for fertilizer but not for animal feed.

page 144

 Why make silage?
9 You can store extra feed as silage
10 and use it as animal feed when plants are not growing.
11 You can harvest your crops when they have highest feed value and store them for use throughout the year.
 12   What are the steps in making silage?

page 145

Making a silo.
Where is a good place for the silo?
Near to where the crops are cut - short distance from the field to the silo.

Near to the road - you may want to transport or sell your silage.

Near to where the animals feed - short distance from silo to feeding animals.

No water - in a dry area which is easy to drain.

What is important in making a silo?
Right size
14 Big silos cost more.
Very small silos have a lot of waste.
 15 The smallest silos should have
4-5 m3 of silage.
You need to cut the plant, carry
it and fill the silo in one day.

page 146

16 You need enough silage to feed your animals throughout the dry season.  Make more small silos not one big silo.

IMPORTANT: How many animals do you have?

How much feed does each animal need?

How much spare crop do you have for silage?

17 You must compact the silage to remove air.

The silo must be strong enough for this.

No air

18 Air in silage causes problems:
- loss of energy
- increase in temperature
- growth of fungi.
Seal the top of the silo to keep air out, replace the seal quickly after removing silage.


No water/sun

19 Make a roof to protect silage from rain and sun.

page 147


20 Silage produces a lot of effluent.

Make drains on each side of the silo floor to remove waste.

Fill the drains with stones and rocks.

Make sure the drains do not go near drinking water.


21 If your silo is large, make a base for unloading equipment.

page 148

Types of silo
How can you make a stack silo?
22 Choose a site with good drainage and firm soil base.
If possible, lay a concrete floor.
23 Stack the cut crop carefully.
Make it high at the sides and the ends.

Compact the stack.
Cover the stack with plastic sheets.
Fence the stack so that cattle cannot step on the silage.

Advantages                                        Disadvantages

1 Low cost.                                                   1 Lot of waste at sides and ends.
2 Easy to move.                                           2 Difficult to roll the stack to check
                                                                          for high temperatures.

page 149


Material                             Labour                            Manhours

1 Earth bricks                                 1 Brick laying                                            90
2 Cement (12 bags)                      2 Make walls                                            32
                                                           & concrete 
3 Sand (3 m3)                                3 Dig drains & fill                                        8
                                                           trenches with stones
4 Wire-mesh (34 m) 
& staples (.8 kg) 

5 Broken stones for drainage (1.6 m3)

                                                   Total man/hrs:           130

How can you make a walled clamp silo?
24 Make earth into bricks and bake them hard in the sun.

Cover the wire-mesh with a layer of concrete.

25 Build the walls of the silo from the bricks.
26 Put wire-mesh on the inside of the walls.
27 Make a roof out of wire-mesh and cover with a thin layer of straw.


page 150

28 The silo has a capacity of about 35 m3 (11,000 kg).
This is enough to feed 5 milking cows for 90 days.
1 Other materials for walls: metal or wood e.g. railway sleepers.
2 Silage produces acids. Treat materials with asphalt to protect them.

page 151

How can you make a trench silo?
29 Choose a site with sloping land and firm soil.
Side view
30 Dig a trench:
- with a 10% slope on the back wall and bottom.
This will carry the waste towards the drains.
- wide enough for a tractor or cart to enter.
32 Dig drains and fill with rocks or stones.


page 152

33 Your trench silo will be better if you line the sides, bottom and walls with a 10 cm layer of concrete.

Extend the concrete for 3-4 m on the slope.


34 Cover the silage with a polythene sheet.

This will keep the air and water out.
Add a 15 cm layer of soil. This will compact the silage.

Make the slope of the back wall and bottom 10 %.
This trench was filled in 5 days.

35 Make a roof.

This is bamboo with a "cadjan" covering.

page 153

Materials                                                  Labour

1 Broken stones (drainage)                     1 Dig trench
2 Poles                                                         2 Make roof
3 Roofing material & ropes
4 Wood preservative

36 This silo has a capacity of about 10 m3 (3,500 kg).

This is enough to feed 2 cows and 2 calves for 60 days.

It is suitable for small - medium scale silage operations.

1 Replace roof mats every year.
2 Replace roof structure every 3 years.
3 Replace trench after 5 years.
Advantages                                              Disadvantages

1 Low cost, about US$ 5-10 per m3       1 Needs a good, sloping site
2 Low waste because of walls                2 Danger of water running into
3 Easy to load and unload                          the trench, especially in
   because at ground level.                          tropical regions

page 154

 How can you make a circular wattle silo?
37 Choose a well-drained site with firm soil.

Draw a circle on the earth, 3.5 m in diameter.

38 Make holes around the circle,
7.5 cm apart.

Errect the poles.

39 Mix clay and cow dung.

Plaster over the poles.

40 Add and compact the crop.
Seal the top with a mixture of soil and straw or with a plaster jacket.


page 155

41 Build a roof for the silo.
42 A "wattle and daub" silo.

Materials                                                           Labour

1 140 wooden poles (2.20 m long,                   1 Dig holes for poles
0/ 0.06 m diameter) 

2 Poles                                                                  2 Erect & connect poles

3 Soil, cattle manure,                                          3 Prepare mud
straw chaff (to produce mortar 
for wall coating)

4 Plastic jacket                                                    4 Plaster walls

43 This silo has a capacity of about 18 m3 (6,000 kg).
This is enough to feed 3 cows and 3 calves for 60 days (daily ration: 25 kg/cow, 6 kg/calf).
1 Replace plastic jacket after 1 year.
2 Replace basic structure after 2 years.

page 156

How can you make a bamboo silo?
44 Choose a well-drained site with firm soil.
Draw a circle on the earth 2 m in diameter.
45 Make holes around the circle
12 cm apart.
Erect the poles.
46 Attach wire-mesh to the walls.
This supports the cement lining.


47 Mix 1 part cement with 2 parts sand and water.

Plaster over the wire-mesh.

page 157

Materials                                           Labour

1 20 bamboo poles                                   1 Dig holes for poles
2 Wire mesh (12.5 m)                               2 Errect & connect poles
3 Nails 1 kg                                               3 Prepare cement
4 Seven sacks cement                                4 Plaster walls
5 Sand
6 Wood preservative
7 Binding wire
8 Roof (sugar cane leaf)


48 Capacity
This silo has a capacity of about 5 m3 (2,000 kg).
This is enough to feed 2 cows for 45 days.

1 Replace roof after 2 years.
2 Replace structure after 5 years.

page 158

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