Inside the Silo - The Magic of Silage Inoculants
What is a silage inoculant and what makes one better than another?
What is it? A forage additive with beneficial bacteria as the main active ingredient and a
carrier. The most popular carriers are dextrose and insulin.
The article Silage review: Recent advances and future uses of silage additives published by The American Dairy Science Association, states:
Silage additives generally fall into one or more of 4 categories based on their effects on silage preservation: (1) fermentation stimulants, (2) fermentation inhibitors,
(3) aerobic deterioration inhibitors, and (4) nutrients and absorbents.
“You should rest for thirty minutes during every workday – unless you’re too busy. Then you should rest for an hour.”
- Farmers’ Proverb
“You should use a silage inoculant in your forage – unless you think it’s too expensive.
Then you need to use a silage inoculant.”
- MicroSynergies Proverb
What does a silage inoculant actually do?
Good silage inoculants give more efficient fermentation, resulting in less energy and dry matter loss and improving animal performance when compared to untreated forage.
1. Preserves forage: without an inoculation, forage will become moldy and spoil more quickly.
2. Pre-digests the macronutrients: it’s cheaper for “bugs” to pre-digest the macronutrients (fats & carbohydrates) than it is for the cow to do the same.
Instead of using energy to digest food, the livestock uses energy to produce more milk or greater meat production.
Common Silage Inoculant Culture Descriptions
Enterococcus faecium – is one of the bacteria that begins working at the start of the fermentation process. Enterococcus faecium is often known as the “Silage Starter”. Enterococcus faecium’s optimum temperature range is 50ºF to 113ºF, but does grow outside that temperature range as well. Enterococcus faecium works in a wide pH range, from 3.6 to 7.0. Enterococcus faecium is also a good “lactic acid” producing organism.
Lactobacillus brevis – is a good producer of “both acetic and lactic acid”. Acetic acid is the first acid produced in the fermentation process and helps to drop the initial pH below 5. Lactobacillus brevis has an optimum temperature of 86ºF, but does grow outside that temperature range as well. Lactobacillus brevis works in a pH range, from 4.0 to 6.0.
Lactobacillus lactis ssp. lactis – is a unique strain of bacteria that both helps to suppress the growth of Clostridia in forage as well as reduces the growth of yeast and mold spores.
Lactobacillus plantarum - is often known as the “Work Horse” of the fermentation process because it produces a lot of “lactic acid” over a wide temperature and pH range. Lactobacillus plantarum’s optimum temperature range is 59ºF to 113ºF, but does grow outside that temperature range as well. Lactobacillus plantarum works in a pH range, from 3.6 to 7.0. Lactobacillus plantarum “Completes the silage fermentation process”.
Pediococcus acidilactici – is one of the bacteria that begins working at the start of the fermentation process. Pediococcus acidilactici also efficiently produces lactic acid at a “low moisture” level (45%). Pediococcus acidlactici’s also has a “higher” optimum temperature range of 80ºF to 125ºF, but does grow outside that temperature range as well. Pediococcus acidilactici works in a wide pH range, from 4.0 to 7.0.
Pediococcus pentosaceus – is also one of the bacteria that begins working at the start of the fermentation process. Pediococcus pentosaceus also efficiently produces lactic acid at a “low moisture” level (45%). Pediococcus pentosaceus’s also has a “lower” optimum temperature range of 50ºF to 90ºF, but does grow outside that temperature range as well. Pediococcus pentosaceus works in a wide pH range, from 4.3 to 7.3
Propionibacterium – produces large amounts of “propionic acid” to help reduce the growth of yeast and mold spores and stabilize the forage. Propionibacterium’s optimum temperature range is 50ºF to 90ºF, but does grow outside that temperature range as well. Propionibacterium’s optimum pH range is from 4.5 to 4.9, but does grow outside that pH range as well.
Bacillus pumilus - is an Enzyme Factory. It is an excellent producer of Cellulase, which breaks down cellulose, plus an excellent producer of Xylanase, to break down plant material, to provide food sources for the beneficial bacteria to enhance their lactic acid production. Bacillus pumilus has a “wide” optimum temperature range of 50ºF to 122ºF, but does grow outside that temperature range as well. Bacillus pumilus also works in a "wide" pH range, from 6.0 to 10.0.
Why Use a Moisture Scavenger?
Study using E. faecium:
The MicroChoice® Method and the control samples were standardized in anhydrous dextrose at 3.9x109 CFU per gram. Eight samples of each were stored at ambient temperature and enumerated using MRS agar and incubated at 37°C for 3 days at Day 1 and Months 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, and 12.
Further, using the MicroChoice® Method, Enterococcus faecium was also conditioned using proprietary water activity control methods and advanced packaging techniques.
The ‘Control Typical’ was not conditioned for water activity but did use superior packaging techniques while the 'Controlled Baseline' was also not conditioned and was packaged in industry-standard poly-bags.
Results[i] The MicroChoice® Method group remained stable across-and-at the 12-month mark, whereas the controls were unable to achieve similar stability results, dying-off rapidly after 6 months.
This is likely explained by the MicroChoice® Method of water activity control and advanced packaging techniques.
The incorporation of processing using the MicroChoice® Method had a very significant impact on the viability of the organisms.
Because these organisms tend to remain viable for a longer period of time when in refrigerated – or even frozen conditions, the results obtained above at ambient temperatures are in theory even more promising when combined with this third layer of protection.
[i] Similar and consistent results were also obtained when testing was performed on other organisms in a series of same-setup studies.
Ready to formulate a silage inoculant for your customers? We are ready to help with with connections to more commercially available strains of microbes than anyone in the world and decades of knowledge and formulation expertise using proprietary processes to create unmatched stability.