UPDATE 2nd Feb 17.
Disappointing results from the experiment below:
The plastic lid on the milk tin somehow cracked so the silage spoilt.
The metal lid was somehow not effective and that silage spoilt.
As we were packing the grass in the black plastic bags we could see that the quality was very poor, and despite 3 layers, it also spoilt.
The best looking was the grass wrapped in the tarpaulin which I offered to the goats – but they didn’t eat it!
All in all, not a success, but an interesting experiment to have tried. I will not do it again but will concentrate on using fresh leaves from trees that do well in the dry season, particulary camels foot, but also jacaranda which the goats enjoy. Both these trees grow back quickly from pruning and produce lots of firewood. Another advantage is that they do not require the plastic, sometimes costly, and eventually polluting resources of silage, that is, black plastic bags, tarpaulin or plastic bins.
MAKING SMALL SCALE SILAGE EXPERIMENT, OCTOBER 2016
During rainy season (May to October) there is lots of grass for my goats, but the rest of the year, in the dry season, it’s a challenge to feed livestock. We have many camelsfoot leaves in our garden which grow like a weed and the goats love their leaves, so this is an excellent solution for the first part of dry season. However, they run out before the grass grows, so I’ve been experimenting at making some silage. Hay is dried grass – I can’t make this as the grass grows in rainy season which leaves no opportunity to dry it. But silage is fermented grass so it doesn’t matter if it’s wet. I had a read around online to learn how to make it on a small scale and this is what I learnt:
Cut grass/maize leaves.
Leave to wilt for an hour or so.
Pack it airtight and store.
It’s basically the same method that I use to ferment vegetables for salads!
We have a helper in the garden a few days a week, Longnan, who cut the grass for me along with his friend Godwin. Then we packed it in a number of different types of storage containers and when we open them in about February, we’ll be able to see which one worked the best.
They say the hardest thing with fermentation is waiting! But that’s all we can do now, wait until February when the grass and leaves are finished. Then we’ll see if the silage worked, and also if the goats like it!