138. If you live in a place where it rains most of the year, where you cannot dry chips, making silage is the best way of preserving the roots for a long time.
139. When feed materials are preserved under airtight, anaerobic conditions, the succulent product that is obtained is called silage.
140. The process of making silage is known as ensiling. The airtight place or container where silage is made is called a silo.
141. Under airtight conditions, carbohydrates in feed materials undergo fermentation and produce acids. No mould or bad organisms will grow when a material is in acidic conditions.
142. So the silage can be preserved and the material can be stored for a long time without spoilage.
143. You may have made pickles at home. Making silage is somewhat like making pickles. In pickling, you add acid from outside and preserve the food. In ensiling, acid is formed within the material.
144. What are the things you need to make silage from cassava roots? You need:
- cassava roots;
- knives or a chopper;
- a silo.
145. Various types of silos have been made and used for ensiling. Trench silos (or pit silos) are the best- suited for tropical areas.
146. Building a trench silo is simple. You dig the soil and make a hole in the ground with some fortifications. This trench can be used as a silo. This is a trench silo.
How to build the trench silo
147. Dig a hole in the ground. The length, width and depth of the hole will depend on how much silage you want to make.
148. In a silo with a volume of 2 m³ (2 m long by 1 m wide by 1 m deep) you can pack about 1 000 kg of fresh chips.
149. The best place to put the trench silo is on a slope or hillside. This makes drainage easy.
150. The trench has to be made rather long. A rectangular- shaped silo is desirable.
151. The walls of the silo should narrow from top to bottom. The floor should slope towards the opening.
152. You must have a small drain at the bottom end to drain off any liquid coming from the silo.
153. You can also put stones in the bottom to increase the drainage.
154. If possible, you should cut into the centre of the front wall of the silo and make a gate.
155. You can fill the silo and remove the silage through this gate.
156. After the silo is filled, the gate must be sealed. You can use wooden planks or sticks for sealing.
Use wooden planks or sticks
157. In areas with high rainfall, you have to prevent rain from entering the silo:
- You must build a simple roof above the silo.
- You must cut a drain around the silo.
158. If you do not have a lot of material to ensile, you can use any container that can be packed airtight.
159. You can use oil drums, concrete pipes and even thick polyethelene bags.
160. You must line these with polyethelene sheeting and have a small outlet in the bottom for drainage. They must be kept on a concrete floor for easy drainage.
161. The size of the silo that you want to build will depend on how much silage you want to make.
162. But the depth of the silo must not be more than 2.5 m and the width no more than 3 m.
163. In larger silos, packing is not efficient and spoilage may be high.
164. If you want to make more silage, do not increase the depth or the width of the trench. Either increase the length of the trench or build another silo.
165. When you have several silos, you can develop a feeding plan and use them one after another to feed your animals from.
166. Chop fresh, unpeeled roots and start filling the silo. When the roots are chopped, they pack well and the silo can be made airtight.
167. Tight packing is essential. If air gets trapped inside the silo, the roots will spoil instead of fermenting.
168. You must do the filling in layers of roots and then press as hard as possible by treading on them.
Treding on roots
169. To reduce spoilage, you need to fill the silo within a day.
170. Once you have filled the silo, the top must be covered airtight. You can use grass, leaves or thick polyethelene sheeting for cover.
171. This cover must be sealed again to ensure further airtight conditions. You can use wood shavings, sticks, earth, tiles or stones.
172. Over the next few days after filling, you will see the volume of silage reduce. You must watch for this and add more earth or stones to prevent air from entering.
173. If you do not watch for this, air will enter. Moulds will develop and the silage will be spoiled.
174. Cassava root silage will be ready for feeding in four weeks. If you do not open the silo, silage can be preserved without any spoilage for six months.
175. Good cassava root silage will be light brown in colour, succulent and have a pleasant smell.
176. When the silage is removed you must expose only a small area. If you have a gate, you must remove silage through the gate.
177. You must remove the silage as quickly as possible.
178. When you are making silage, even if you take all precautions, you will find there is some spoilage.
179. Usually there will be some spoilage in the corners, near the walls and near the gate. These losses are acceptable in any silage making.
180. If you want to make silage, but have never made it before, make it in small amounts on a trial basis. When you are more experienced you can start making larger amounts.