Saturday, 11 February 2012

Tube Silage making technology for dairy feed security in Kenya

Dairy farming business in Kenya frequently suffers a set back every time there is a dry season due to lack of adequate fodder for dairy animals. Ironically the prices of milk are at their highest during the dry spells. This interferes with the profitability of dairy enterprise. However with a constant supply of silage, the dairy farmers can triple their income for the same period of milk production. Today this has been made possible by the use of tube silage making technology, which was introduced in the country by an American farmer’s cooperative called Land O’ Lakes, some years back and latter taken over by extension services. Currently this silage making technology has become popular than ever before as a result of climate change which has led to frequent fodder shortages.

The silage making technology is spreading at a high rate among the smallholder dairy farmers. On talking to a livestock extension expert he said the high demand of this tube silage making technology among the dairy farmers in central Kenya gives the livestock extension service providers no rest after the rains. Some innovative youths have identified the technology as a business opportunity, and are giving the service of making the tube silage for a fee. Tube silage making technology is simple, cost effective and ideal for smallholder dairy farmers. Tube silage making technology has two major advantages:-
  • The technology ensures constant milk production by the dairy cows throughout the year, due to a regular supply of dairy animal feeds, leading to good returns from the dairy enterprise.
  • The technology promotes conservation of excess fodder allowing harvesting at the optimum stage, preventing overgrown fodder and ensuring high quality fodder for the dairy cows at all times.Material requirements for the tube silage making technology includes:-
    Ø      Fodder – Napier, maize or sorghum can be used.
    Ø      Black polythene tubes, two and a half metres, gauge 1000.
    Ø      Mollasses-20 litres
    Ø      Chaff cutter or a machete
    Ø      Canvas
    Ø      Sack
    Ø      Medium sized bucket
    Ø      5 litres plastic container for mixing
    Ø      Watering can
    Ø      sisal twine
    Ø      water
    Ø      2 people to provide labour for application of the technology.  Make the silage in the store where it will remain until ready for use
Harvest the fodder and keep it for two days to wilt.
Chop the fodder into to 2.5cm length pieces.
Measure one bag of well compressed fodder (about 70kgs) and spread it on the canvas.
Mix 1 litre molasses with 3 litres of water and sprinkle the mixture over the fodder then mix thoroughly.
Pleat the black polythene tube lengthwise, tie firmly with the sisal twine at 30cm distance from the cut edge, fold back the edge and tie once again to exclude the air.
Turn the polythene bag inside out.
Roll down or fold back the top of the polythene bag.
Put into the polythene bag the mixture of fodder, molasses and water.
Compress the mixture firmly to exclude all the air. A man in clean gum boots can stand inside the bag and compress the fodder down thoroughly using the feet.
Repeat the  steps  until the polythene bag is full,  approximately  450kgs weight.Hold the top of the polythene bag firmly excluding the air.Tie the bag firmly with a sisal twine excluding the air in order to encourage the growth of fermentation bacteria.Place a weight at the top to exclude the air which if allowed will make the mixture to rot due to activity of rotting bacteria.

A bag of soil approximately of about 40kgs has been used successfully by farmers to weigh down the top.
Wait for 21 days for completion of the fermentation process before use. Temperatures of 40º-42º are recommended during the fermentation process and a silage thermometer can be used for measuring. The silage made using this technology is sweet smelling and brown when ready.
Mix the high quality silage with Napier or hay when feeding the dairy animals for maximum benefit.
The amount of fodder to be fed per dairy cow depends on milk production .This dairy industry technology has come at the right time to the right people.
More info-