Learn how it happened that mechanization is one of the avenues in making silage.
By Zac Sarian
The demand for silage from local livestock raisers is more staggering than you and I think. One fellow who is importing 6,000 head of cattle from Australia for fattening needs 200 tons every month. And that is only one customer. There are many more raisers, not only of cattle fatteners but also dairy cattle, buffaloes, goats, sheep, and even pigs, that require a steady supply of affordable silage.
Can anyone supply the demand of one customer for 200 tons a month? That’s easy if the operation is mechanized. According to Eugene Gabriel, who is with the company Right Agri, they can eventually supply the demand of other raisers. That’s because they now have the machinery to quickly prepare land for growing corn. They have the corn seeding machine, and the harvesting and shredding machines. And the latest equipment they have acquired is an automatic silage-bagging machine from Turkey that can vacuum pack 8 tons of silage materials in one hour.
The silage—mainly of 75-days corn—is very good for fattening cattle. At that stage, the corn plants are succulent and there’s no need to apply molasses to enhance fermentation.
But there are other TMR or total mix rations that need to be enhanced for special animals like milk cows, sheep, and goats. With the collaboration of Dr. Rene Sumaoang, a microbiologist, the silage can be enhanced with the mechanical addition of enzymes and minerals.
Mechanized corn silage production can result in cheaper feed, according to Eugene Gabriel. They are currently supplying some goat and cattle raisers at ₱4.50 per kilo.
Eugene’s group, which is based in Isabela, is now collaborating with partners in Central Luzon so that they can produce the silage for customers in Central and Southern Luzon such as Laguna, Quezon, and Batangas.
With affordable silage that is available throughout the year, more farmers—including the smallholders—will be encouraged to go into cattle fattening, dairying, goat and sheep raising, and even organic pig production using silage as the bulk of feeds. This will have a great impact on increasing meat production in the Philippines.
We observed in Thailand that in the Pakchong district, there is a big community of backyard dairy farmers taking care of 5 to 20 head per family. They can sustain their backyard dairy farming because there are 20 commercial growers of Pakchong 1 napier that is available throughout the year at an affordable price.
By the way, Gabriel has made arrangements with the Turkey silage bagging machine manufacturer to supply knock-down bagging machines that will be assembled by the Central Isabela Agricultural Machinery Company, Inc. (CIAMCI). If you want to get in touch with Gabriel, contact him at 0922.800.2474 or 0908.980.2474.
One possibility that Gabriel has in mind is to encourage a cluster of goat raisers in Isabela who can access silage for feeding their animals year-round. Some farmers can specialize in fattening goats for slaughter. They can buy as many goats as possible for fattening from other raisers who breed their animals.
Gabriel is also thinking of contract growing goats for slaughter. The farmer who does not have money to buy feeds can be supplied with silage up to the time the animals are ready for the market. Agricom Foods, a new company of Gabriel’s group, will buy all the fattened goats. The cost of the feed will just be deducted from the selling price. Agricom will then have the goats processed into canned chevon in the processing facilities at the Isabela University managed by Dr. Jonathan Naiga. The canned chevon developed by Dr. Nayga has been contracted for marketing by Gabriel’s group.
Gabriel said that they have marketed a limited volume of canned chevon and they know that there is a big market for the same.
This story appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s August 2017 issue.