Factors That Affect Quality Of Silage

Achieving high quality silage is important in ensuring your animals get the necessary nutrients for production. However, we all know how difficult it is to actually to make high quality silage. Aside from having a quick and efficient fermentation process to reduce the pH, it is important to know the factors that affect the quality of silage.

Some of the most important factors to consider include:

Dry Matter Concentration

It should be noted that even small amounts of rainfall can negatively affect the quality of silage. Therefore, harvesting of silage should be planned for during the dry season.

High moisture silage can cause great losses in seepage and cause Clostridia bacteria which consume forage carbohydrates, proteins and lactic acid as their energy source to grow on the silage. Therefore, wilting high moisture silage prevents Clostridial Fermentation and lowers sugar concentration, resulting in high quality silage.


During silage fermentation, the optimal temperature should fall below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above that could reduce quality of fermentation by enhancing protein degradation and reducing the rapid PH decline. While the silage will remain be palatable to livestock, the protein and energy sources in the silage will be invaluable to the livestock.

To identify excessively heated or heat-damaged silage, look out for a brown to dark brown color with a tobacco-type smell.

Exposure To Air

Reducing air (oxygen) infiltration during the ensiling process is important in making good quality silage. Presence of air in the forage mass allows the respiration process to continue, leading to sugar depletion necessary for fermentation. Exposure to air also leads to growth of yeast and mold, heating and reduces palatability.


Additives are essential in enhancing the aerobic stability (bunk life) of forages such as maize and sorghum. For forages that are difficult to ensile like legumes, additives improve their fermentation and aerobic stability.

Carbohydrate Sources

Using molasses during ensiling increases fermentation rate as they add fermentable sugars which increase organic acid production and lowers the pH.

However, molasses and other sugar or high-energy sources should not be added to maize, sorghum, or cool-season grasses (e.g. Ryegrass) during ensiling because the excess sugar availability will likely stimulate the growth of yeasts and increase spoilage.


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