Food Technology Information Center

Technology of Forage and By-Products Preservation

1. Why preserve forage?

Preserving food for human consumption seems very logical. Actually, all of the food that we consume has undergone some treatment, which may range from minimal to intensive and technological. Most, if not all of these treatments aim to preserve the product, to prevent diseases, and to increase the shelf life. All of these considerations apply to fodder preservation too. The history of mankind has always been connected with, and may even be dependent on various ruminant animals: cattle are found in most temperate regions, goats, sheep and camels thrive in the arid zones; yaks and deer favor the cold regions, and llamas and alpacas characterize the high mountains of South America.

Four main motivations for preserving forage:

  1. Nutritive aspects

    Cattle, especially dairy cows, require an almost continuous supply of high-quality feed throughout the year, although this is less crucial for beef cattle. However, the availability of field crops varies according to the season; and occasionally there occurs at least one bad season or other factor that results in an insufficient supply of forage. Such factors may include drought, flood, excessively cold or hot weather, and damage by diseases, insects, rodents and other pests. In such cases the supply of fresh forage will be inadequate or even totally lacking and the maintenance of a supply of preserved feed material will help to overcome these shortages.
  2. Easy cultivation

    There are seasons or conditions in which cultivation of crops is easier, more successful, or more economical. It is logical that we would take advantage of them to grow as much forage as possible or as is likely to be needed.

  3. Suitability to area

    Not every area is suitable for all crops, with respect to climatic and other conditions; therefore we should select crops suitable for each area, and exploit its advantages. Such a system can be beneficial if we are able to transport commodities from place to place, and to receive them in good condition.

  4. Keeping stocks

    A modern farm must always maintain a reserve supply of feed, to ensure uninterrupted feeding and production. Such a reserve must be stored so as to ensure that the feed material retains its nutritive values and is kept in the best condition.