Organic acid use in silage production

17 October 20233 min reading

By fermenting moisture-laden green feeds in an oxygen-free environment with the aid of lactic acid bacteria, the resulting silage, when combined with the correct application of organic acids, provides immense benefits for animal feeding.

Hakan Özekmekçi
Trouw Nutirition | Satış Müdürü

With a legacy spanning a century, Nutreco, global animal nutrition company, and its animal feed division Trouw Nutrition, have disseminated guidelines concerning the use of organic acids in silage. According to Hakan Özekmekçi, the Ruminant Sales Manager at Trouw Nutrition working directly in this domain, in times when fresh forage is scarce, silage supports animal nutritional needs, particularly when seamlessly blended with organic acids.


Sharing insights, fortified by the knowledge of technical specialists, Hakan Özekmekçi emphasizes that in livestock farming, ensuring that both meat and dairy animals receive a balanced diet throughout every season is paramount. This nutrition strategy isn’t just confined to dry and concentrated feeds but also demands the inclusion of moist forages. Özekmekçi elaborates, “Such forages are primarily accessible during the spring and summer months. In times of fresh forage shortage, the need is typically met through the production of silage. The process involves fermenting green, water-abundant fodder crops under specific conditions, either in silos or pits, resulting in nutrient-rich animal feed. It’s crucial to adhere to certain protocols during its production. Factors such as the number of aerobic microorganisms present, the duration of exposure to air, and the ambient temperature are just a few crucial parameters to monitor.” (Filya 2001; Ashbell et al. 2002)


Özekmekçi underscores that the lack of aerobic stability in silages obtained after fermentation is a recurring issue, especially prevalent in warmer countries. He remarks, “Such silages often contain spoilage-causing microorganisms like yeast, mold, enterobacteria, and clostridia spores in alarmingly high concentrations, and they provide an environment conducive for these microorganisms to thrive. Upon opening the silage, these microorganisms activate and consume the sugars present, leading to the heating of the silage.”

Based on Özekmekçi’s data, there’s an ever-present risk of oxygen permeating the ensiled material from various avenues. Even if the silage remains sealed throughout the process, the moment it’s unsealed for feeding, it becomes vulnerable to unbridled air exposure, activating spoilage-causing aerobic microorganisms, which then consume available sugars, leading to heating. This heating degrades the protein and cellulose digestibility, diminishing its nutritive value. (Filya, 2001)


Current research accentuates that organic acid-based preservatives are pivotal in silage quality, curbing the growth of mold and yeast and augmenting aerobic stability. Preservatives, particularly those rooted in formic acid, work swiftly in reducing the pH of silages, enhancing their aerobic stability. (Lindgren et al. 1983, Driehuis and Van Wikselaar 1996, Filya 2003, Filya and Sucu 2003). Additionally, these preservatives mitigate heating during ensiling, prevent protein degradation, and bolster silage efficacy. (Rooke et al., 1988; Polan et al., 1998; Winters et al., 2001; Filya and Sucu, 2003)

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