Keeping cows and the Pakistani indigenous buffalo is very profitable, if you can train yourself to think long term.
This page explores one of the better ways of preparing silage, especially for a dairy farm in Pakistan.
What is Silage?
Silage is usually made of corn and is considered one of the best feed for the animals. Silage is the name of the process through which corn is fermented to be ready for easier digestion by the ruminant cows.
Note that silage is the main feed for your animals, the main course if you may. I have seen some people think that fodder and silage are completely two separate things, and that the animals need both. They are confusing everything here!
Fodder is a generic term, used to indicate the ‘food’ that you give to your cows/buffalo. Silage is very much a type of fodder in that sense. Other food items, such as ‘jawaar‘ and ‘barseem‘ (Urdu names), are also fodder. But remember, silage is the best type of food and should always take precedence over any other type of fodder. Also remember, you do not NEED any other fodder if you are giving silage to your animals. If you can manage then you should include ‘green fodder’ such as ‘jawaar’ and ‘barseem’ etc, but there is no substitute for silage especially if you want to run a successful dairy farm here in Pakistan. Now on with the silage preparation…
How is (corn) Silage prepared?
The maize is cut directly from the field using a special cutter to finely cut the maize into small pieces. These pieces are then dumped into silage pits (discussed below). The corn pieces are then pressed, usually using a tractor (or small bulldozer even!). The idea is to press and remove as much air from the maize dump as possible. After the corn is pressed, it is covered with a waterproof sheet. The idea is to keep the pressed maize air tight.
It takes approximately 15 to 20 days for the silage to be ready for use.
Silage that is used for dairy farm is prepared and stored in silage pits. There are various methods for making silage pits:
- You can dig out a rectangular shaped trench and then use the tractor to press the silage. One side of the trench is sloped inwards for the tractor to move up and down while pressing.
- You can put up walls on three sides, and dump and then press the corn there.
- You can even use a waterproof sheet, lay it on the ground, press the corn on top of it, and then seal the pit from all sides. This is very economical as you don’t have to dig in or construct the three walls, as in the above two methods. But the only minor drawback is that you can’t make a large heap (but you can many smaller ones if you want!)
Regardless of which method you use, remember this one thing: do not even think about buying your first animal till your silage is ready to be consumed.
Note that silage is an integral and essential part of your overall infrastructure for your dairy farm business. In Pakistan, corn is readily grown and you can even use the period between Wheat harvest and Rice sowing to ‘quickly’ grow the maize to be used for silage preparation (I am Alhumdulillah doing that!). But whatever you have to do, remember that silage for a dairy farm in Pakistan is essential (I can’t repeat this often, now can I?).
If you already have a dairy farm and are looking to expand and/or improve, even then, sell an animal or two to get the feeding sorted out.
There are other important infrastructure requirements for a successful dairy farming operation in Pakistan. These will be discussed in other pages, God willing.
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