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Why inoculants are replacing molasses.

By CAROLINE WAMBUIOver the years have been striving to maximise production by ensuring that they have sufficient fodder for their animals' season in season out. Ensiling, a key technique of preserving moist fodder without degrading the fodder's nutritional value, has highly been embraced with farmers using different additives that include enzymes, sugars and molasses.

However, lately farmers have turned to silage inoculants which are additives containing anaerobic lactic acid bacteria used to manipulate and enhance fermentation in silage making as a way of increasing the animal intake and performance. There are two types of silage inoculants: the stimulants which aid in growth of the lactic acid bacteria and the inhibitors that help in slowing down unwanted silage degradation by reducing mold growth.

Inoculants are effective, whether applied as a dry powder or when diluted with water then sprayed on the fodder.Caution though should be taken when diluting the dry inoculant powder so as not to dilute with chlorinated water as chlorine may kill the lactic acid bacteria if chlorine level is too high.

Once the inoculant has been diluted, it should be used within 24 hours. For efficiency, one should purchase an inoculant depending on the purpose as some inoculant have specifically been designed for particular purposes such as to improve aerobic stability.

If the farmer's main purpose is preserving forage quality, then a farmer should use a homo-fermentative inoculant that maximises lactic acid production but if minimising heat is the farmer's main goal, then a hetero-fermentative inoculant will work. METABOLISABLE ENERGYAccording to Seth Oluoch, an animal nutritionist at Caroga Pharma, due challenges that farmers have faced in using molasses, they have slowly shifted from using quick sugars to inoculants.

"When farmers have to use molasses, they have to dilute it with water at a ratio say 1:3 depending on both the quality of fodder and molasses. When you dilute molasses with water it means that you are adding more dissolved oxygen in your silage.

In a case where a farmer is doing one tonne and is advised to use 10 litres of molasses with 30 litres of water in the ratio of 1:3, it means that the farmer is adding 10kg of dissolved oxygen into the silage," Mr Oluoch explains. Whenever farmers use molasses, there is a lot of heating up and the silage turns out to be too hot, but when farmers find it at this state, they assume that their silage is ready a thing that is misleading as this is an indication that the process that was initially designed to be anaerobic has turned to be aerobic.

An aerobic process is marked by the presence of heat, Carbon (IV) Oxide and moisture, a process that replicates itself till all the fodder is rotten and the resulting fodder is hot and dominated by a pungent smell. This fodder is neither safe nor palatable and an animal will only consume it if conditioned to and when it does not have anything better to consume.

Inoculants thus help eliminate all the aerobic microorganisms as they produce lots of acids that denature the aerobic microorganisms such that if compact within seven days, the silage is safe. Unlike when you use molasses, the outcome is cold silage with metabolisable energy that equals the energy present at the time of ensiling.

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Publication:Daily Nation, Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Feb 16, 2018
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