The science of fermentation

Enter the world of ensiling

The fermentation process that takes place during ensiling is a natural one, whereby some of the crop’s own sugars are converted to acid to pickle the forage.

However, making good silage isn’t all down to the weather; the speed and efficiency of this fermentation, and of the corresponding production of desirable lactic acid, are of vital importance – both to maximise feed value and to minimise dry matter losses.

Although bacteria that carry out fermentation may be naturally present on grass, you don’t know if you have sufficient numbers, or if they are the best type for bringing about a fast, efficient fermentation.

In addition, there may be undesirable micro-organisms present – for example enterobacteria, clostridia, yeasts and moulds – which waste nutrients and can potentially results in a poor fermentation and/or encourage spoilage at feedout.

A desirable fermentation is one where you dominate the (unknown) natural microbial population with good bacteria to achieve a rapid pH fall, minimise dry matter losses and preserve as many nutrients as possible for the cow.

By adding large numbers of the right type of beneficial bacteria with a quality silage additive, it puts you in greater control once forage has been put in the clamp.

However, with so many additives to choose from, how do you know which is the right one?

Choosing an additive

The key is to choose an additive from a reputable company with sufficient independent trial evidence to show that it works. Ask to see the trials.

It is better to spend a bit more and get a good return on your investment than to buy a cheap additive and find you are out of pocket.

A good quality inoculant can supply as many as 1 million (1,000,000) beneficial bacteria per gram of forage treated when used correctly. It should also contain bacterial strains specially selected to be highly efficient at fermentation.

Find out more about the Ecosyl range of proven silage additives.