Losses in silage making can be in the field or in the silo. In the field losses are due to:-
- Incorrect setting of mowers and forage harvested leaving a lot of plant stubble.
- Poor operation of the forage harvester resulting in ineffective picking of the plant material.
- Respiratory loss in the field as the material is wilted
- Leaching losses through rain
In the silo losses are due to:-
- Effluent. Is dependent on the moisture content of ensiled material. Immature plant material with huge moisture content results in production of large volumes of effluent which carries withit soluble nutrients. It is therefore necessary to wilt wet plant materials before ensiling to reduce effluent losses.
- Fermentation. Successful ensiling ends in the breakdown of DM to produce sufficient lactic acid by lactobacilli to prevent further breakdown and secondary fermentation. With good compaction and sealing fermentation losses are in the range of 5 to 7% of DM ensiled provided the sugar content of ensiled mass is over 37%. For crops with low sugar content wilting should be done before ensiling or additives such as molasses applied to increase the available sugar. Secondary fermentation occurs when insufficient lactic acid is produced to inhibit the action of microorganism which bring about unpalatable products such as acetic, formic, butyric and proprionic acid. As high as 10% of DM of the ensiled material can be lost through secondary fermentation, but the losses can be reduced if primary fermentation is ensured.