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Silage good for dairy cows

By goGreen | September 29, 2011
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MANILA, Philippines — Dairy production is booming in Thailand and so is the production of feeds for the animals. Supplying the feed requirements of the dairy cattle can also be a profitable project even by small scale operators.

One type of feed that is increasingly becoming in demand is silage. This is fermented forage crops and other agricultural wastes or byproducts that are cut into small pieces and then fermented where air cannot enter. That’s what they call anaerobic fermentation.

One small silage maker that is making good business is a fellow that comes by only one name – Sutat. He and his wife Chareonchai, whom he married only last year, are making silage as just one of their money-making projects. They are making one hundred tons of silage every month in Chombung, Ratchaburi province.

The silage is packed in 27-kilo sacks which are sold at 48 baht per bag. That means they sell more than 3,300 bags each month to the dairy farmers in the Zonta Dairy Village worth more than 4 million baht.

Sutat and his wife make silage using sweet corn stover, pineapple peelings and waste pulp, and leftovers from a nearby cassava starch factory. They say that they used to hire laborers to manually mix the ingredients and bag them. The workers could only finish 300 sacks in one day. They have recently bought a mechanical mixer (it’s like a cement mixer) and with the machine, the workers could finish 500 sacks in one day.

The shredded raw materials are packed in plastic bags, just like the one used in bagging commercial fertilizer. This is then placed inside a sack for ageing. As early as three days from placing the materials in the bag, Sutat said, the silage could already be fed to the cows. However, the silage could be stored for many months without spoiling.

Sutat and his wife also make money from taking care of 17 milking cows. The milk they produce is sold to the Zonta Dairy Plant which pays them 17 baht per liter. In addition, Chareonchai is an artificial insemination technician serving the dairy farmers. For every cow that she impregnates, she is paid 60 baht. Last month, she said, she inseminated 40 cows.

Sutat and his wife are considered small silage producers. A bigger one is the husband and wife team of Kritsada Posuwan and his wife Yupin who are serving the dairy farmers of Nongpho Dairy Cooperative. They are processing 30 tons of raw materials every day. Their raw materials consist of shredded corn cobs (20 percent), cassava skin and residue from a starch factory (20 percent) and pineapple waste products from a factory (60 percent).

Their product is packed in 30-kilo bags and they sell each bag at only 40 baht. They said that they only make a profit of 5 t0 7 percent, but that’s not really bad because of the big volume. Most of the workers who mix and bag the finished product are women. There were 10 women working during our visit. They are paid 2 baht per bag that they finish.

One big silage maker, although it is entirely for their own use in their farm, is Farm Chokchai located about 160 kilometers northeast of Bangkok. They are planting hundreds of hectares to corn purposely for silage making. They feed a lot of silage because they have 3,000 milking cows in their farm.

By the way, Farm Chokchai is the biggest agri-tourism destination in Thailand. They are visited by no less than one million tourists every year. They have educational programs whereby visitors, young and old, could learn and enjoy chores in the farm like milking cows, making yoghurt or ice cream out of milk, and many others.

Of course, silage is not a complete feed for dairy cows. Concentrates which consist of rice bran, soybean meal, fishmeal and the like are added to silage to make a balanced feed for the milking animals.

Source: ZAC B. SARIAN, Manila Bulletin

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