Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/2/2011
Publication Date: 12/11/2011
Citation: Muck, R.E. 2011. The art and science of making silage. In: 41st Western Alfalfa and Forage Symposium, 11-13 December 2011, Las Vegas, Nevada. p. 36-45.
Technical Abstract: In ensiling, a moist crop is preserved by a combination of an anaerobic environment, the lactic and acetic acids produced by lactic acid bacteria fermenting sugars, and a low pH resulting from that acid production. Fermentation causes some dry matter loss, but most loss is caused by aerobic spoilage microorganisms that need oxygen entering the silo to grow and consume the digestible portions of the crop. As a consequence, the keys to delivering a silage to livestock of similar quality as that harvested center on minimizing the exposure of silage to oxygen. These keys include: designing a silo/pile so that feed out rate is high; packing the crop to achieve a low porosity; using a high quality film to cover a silo, securing it tightly to the crop, monitoring it regularly and patching as needed; and removing only the silage needed for that day, leaving a smooth face.