Fermented Wholecrop Cereals
Ensiling wholecrop cereals are becoming more popular in recent times due to them being a compliment or alternative to traditional fermented forages.
Wholecrop in general is a good source of starch and is cheaper to produce as compared to grass silage. With that being said, it is low in protein content. Cereals are a high yielding corp and they can be grown in environments that are not suitable for maize. They offer great flexibility as harvest only takes place after first cut silage. This enables the farmer to decide how much wholecrop is required and the remaining areas can be left to produce mature grain for sale.
Method of Preservation
Method of preservation for wholecrop is similar to grass silage. Crop is fermented in a clamp to produce lactic acid which will preserve the crop and makes the grain more digestible.
Wheat is normally used as they have high yield, good grain to straw ratio and digestible grains. With that being said, any cereal crop can be ensiled.
The cereals are harvested at a range of dry matters. When the crop is high in dry matter, it is difficult to maintain good fermentation in wholecrop. Therefore, adding additive which combines an inoculant with an aerobic spoilage inhibitor is recommended to reduce heating.
Fermented wholecrop (35-45% DM)
Ideally, the range of DM for fermenting wholecrop is 35%-45% DM, preferably at 40% when the grain is at a soft cheddar stage. Adding additive to the crop at harvest ensures better aerobic stability when exposed to air.
High DM wholecrop (56-65% DM)
Wholecrop at 56-65% DM should normally be harvested using a primary processing mill. This is to ensure that maximum digestion occur when the forage is fed. Due to high DM%, fermentation will be limited. However, there will still be risk of aerobic spoilage, causing heating and nutrient loss.
Advantages of Wholecrop
Complements grass and maize silage
High in starch and fibre
Increases Dry Matter Intake (DMI)
Disadvantages of Wholecrop
Low in protein
Narrow window for harvesting
Wasteful fermentation, causing high DM losses
The animal performance may not reflect increased DMI