Silage clamps & Inoculants

Silage is a high moisture feed for livestock that is made from crops fermented anaerobically (without air) and can be stored over winter.

Crops such as grass and maize are cut and then fermented to keep as much of the nutrients as possible.
Fermentation is carried out by microscopic organisms called lactic acid bacteria living in the crops, these perform at their best under anaerobic conditions, i.e. in the absence of oxygen.

It is considered by many that using a silage inoculant is an essential part of making good quality silage. The aim is to improve the quality of fermentation by ensuring proven desirable bacteria are present for an effective and rapid process.

Adding an inoculant containing lactic acid bacteria to silage enables these microbes to convert some of the sugars to  beneficial lactic acid (reducing pH to 4 or below), which preserves the forage and inhibits the growth of undesirable microbes.
Under these acidic conditions, nutrients (sugars & proteins) are preserved and provide a feed that is highly palatable. If fermentation occurs at higher pH values the silage will have a bad taste and lower sugars and proteins will be available.

Some species of Inoculant bacteria also inhibit the activities of the yeasts and moulds that cause spoilage during ensiling and when opening the clamp.

An inoculant treated silage ensures a more effective fermentation process and better aerobic stability

  • Reducing fermentation DM losses
  • Less heating
  • Higher energy feed
  • Inhibit the activity of undesirable micro-organisms
  • Less waste
  • Preserve more protein

Storing crops in silage clamps/pits is a very popular method of conserving feed but attention must be given to consolidating the crop as the pit is filled.

Removing and keeping out oxygen is critical for the bacteria to ferment successfully and so heavy tractors drive over the silage pit on every load going in to give as much consolidation as possible. The silage is then covered by sheets of material such as polyethylene and sealed, it is also advisable to use good quality film, trying to make it as tightly sealed as possible. Old tyres were commonly used to help keep the sheets weighted down although other methods are now used, from heavier top sheets to mats.

If these measures aren’t adhered to oxygen will remain, plant enzymes, other bacteria and micro-organisms will react with the plant sugars and proteins to make energy, commonly causing heating, DM losses and reducing nutrients in the silage.

As soon as the oxygen has gone the bacteria start to multiply turning the plant sugars into lactic acid and causing the pH to drop.

High Stay Green Maize varieties are now available which make the clamps easier to compact. As the leaves are still alive, respiration is more intense and so within a few hours, oxygen is removed and the anaerobic fermentation begins, usually with non-stay green varieties the same process takes between 3 to 6 days. During this time, undesirable bacteria and yeasts can degrade the quality of the silage and its feed value.

Moreover, High Stay Green varieties have a higher level of soluble sugars available which impact on the development of lactic acid at the first stage of fermentation. As soon as the pH is below 4, the sugars stop breaking down and the crop is preserved until the silage is opened and exposed to oxygen. Use of the correct inoculant can keep the silage stable for several days after opening.


Forage inoculant has become an increasingly important part of Bright Maize business. The requirement for livestock producers to make top quality forage has never been greater, and the need for a dependable inoculant ranks as a top priority for most farmers.
Bright Maize has a proven range of tailored inoculants to accommodate the full spectrum of dry matter situations for all forage types: these include grass, maize, whole-crop, Lucerne, and specialist high protein crops.
Fulfilling the highest set out regulations and standards, and using only EU registered bacterial strains and enzymes, these products are sold without additional marketing and pass on a meaningful saving to the farmer.
The products are ranked highly by farmers, advisors and opinion formers. Used on over 1000 farms in the UK, customers include several national award-winning farmers and several leading agricultural colleges.
Our armoury of proven, EU-authorised free enzymes and bacterial strains are:

1; k; 1 Alpha-amylase B. subtilis DS098
1; k; 1 Beta-glucanase A. niger MUCL 39199
1; k; 1 Xylanase T. longibrachiatum MUCL 39203

1k20736 Lactobacillus plantarum NCIMB 30083
1k1010 Pediococcus pentosaceus DSM 23688
1k20745 Lactobacillus brevis DSMZ 16680
1k20738 Lactobacillus buchneri DSM 22501

Free enzymes (amylase, beta-glucanase and xylanase) attack starch, cellulose and hemicelluloses respectively, opening up the crop fibres and releasing sugars for subsequent microbial attack.

Homofermentative bacteria (L. plantarum and P. pentosaceus) produce a favourable fermentation profile, rapidly creating anaerobic conditions and lowering pH as they ferment sugars to lactic acid. This efficient fermentation results in the inhibition of spoilage organisms, increased preservation of dry matter and reduced protein breakdown.

In higher dry matter silages, prone to the growth of yeasts, moulds and other fungi, heterofermentative bacteria (L. brevis and L. buchneri) complete the reaction. These species ferment sugars to both lactic and acetic acids, L. buchneri being particularly worthy of mention, its production of acetic acid providing outstanding aerobic stability both in the clamp and upon opening and feedout. Some strains of L. buchneri have been reported to increase dry matter losses but this is not the case for DSM 22501 which actually reduce them – a special ability that was highlighted in EFSA’s Scientific Opinion prior to EU authorisation of the strain.

Application rates: the standard rate is 2 litres per tonne of fresh weight material, with the option of low dosage application, down to 40 ml.
for example, a 100tt sachet needs to be mixed with 200 litres of water for standard rate application.

have a question?

Contact Rod and Charlie who are ready to help on 01722 744 494