Research/ Review Paper | Textile Articles

Fodder Scarcity – Silage in Plastic packaging showing the way out

Published: December 19, 2019


  • India where over 75% farmers are small and marginal holders, livestock is the main source of livelihood for majority of the rural population. It is the backbone of Indian Agriculture contributing 7% to national GDP. India has the highest number of livestock population in the world (512 million, 19th Livestock Census 2012), representing over 17% of the world livestock population.
  • About 65-70% of the total cost of livestock farming is attributed to feeding and hence fodder and feed are an integral part of animal Husbandry and there is no shortcut to sustain livestock husbandry, without addressing the development of fodder and feed resources
  • With 176 million tonnes milk production, India is the largest milk producing country globally. The milk production has almost tripled since 1990-91 with a growth of over 4 percent annually which has increased to almost 5 percent in recent years (Niti Ayog report)
  • However, the average milk yield of cattle in India is very low. While the average milk yield of cattle in the world and Europe is 2038 kg and 4250 kg per lactation respectively, the average milk yield of Indian cattle is only 990 kg because of fodder management practices. (Source – Animal Husbandry, MS)

As per NIANP-ICAR, there is shortage of green and dry fodder to the extent of up to 32% and 23% respectively. However, twice a year the problem gets very acute due to shortage of green fodder for cattle. This is because availability of fodder has a huge dependence on monsoon performance. There is abundant fodder available for cattle during the monsoon season but during lean periods or drought conditions, the fodder availability decreases remarkably. This periodic unavailability poses a great challenge to not only sustain milk production but also the health of the animal population, hence it is very necessary to provide abundant fodder to the cattle during lean periods as well.

(Source: NIANP 2012)

  • Prolonged preservation of Fodder in the form of Silage was a potential solution, but largely confined to the pit method in some large government /private locations.

Reliance Industries Ltd with a dedicated task force went about finding a solution to the issue, through packaged silage.

  • Many activities were undertaken since inception of the task force in 2011…
  • MOU with Veterinary colleges and agriculture universities for regulatory approval from GoI.
  • Presentation given to state ministry of animal husbandry.
  • Trial conducted at various large co-operative dairies across India
  • Organized more than 30 live demos for farmers in rural India
  • Leaflets developed in 7 vernacular languages.
  • Telecast & Documentary on Silage bags developed by Punjab Dairy Development Board Doordarshan Krishi Darshan, Chitale Dairy, Animal Husbandry department (MS), Door Darshan, Delhi Brahamkumaris, “Entrepreneurship development on Fodder Products & Feeding Management” program was covered by DD Oriya
  • Published reports in leading newspapers like The Hindu, Dainik Jagran, Kesari, Sakaal, Agrovan, Rajasthan Patrika, Dainik Yugpaksh, Dainik Bhaskar, Lion Express, Andhra Jyothi.
  • Spec-in of silage bags in Govt notifications, Livestock farms, Major Dairies , KVKs, Veterinary colleges Pan India and tenders from Animal Husbandry Departments & Nodal Govt Agencies of Maharashtra, Tamil nadu, Haryana, Punjab and other states under various schemes like NADP scheme, RKVY, NLM, NDDB, ATMA, State Fodder development scheme.
  • National Livestock Mission’s new guidelines (2014-15) have given recognition to use of small units.
  • Silage bags commercialized in 18 states/ UT viz Pondicherry, Kerala, Telangana, MP, Himachal, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar, Andhra, Tamilnadu, Rajasthan, UP, Kerala, Karnataka.
  • Veterinary Colleges released a technical report on Silage making in PP FIBC bags
  • Cattle feed trial & training program conducted for more than 100 dairies.
  • Trial of Anti-rodent Silage bags-initiated pan-India
  • Presentation to ATARI (Agricultural Technology Application Research Institutes), Director & Joint Director -AHD (various states- Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, NE state) for the inclusion of Silage bags in the Govt. schemes.
  • Draft BIS standard for PP Silage bags submitted
  • Supply chain developed, @ 1.5 Million FIBC bags of various capacities were used for silage making over a period of 2.5 years’ time.

What is Silage?

  • Chopped green fodder packed in anaerobic condition gets converted in to silage.

Advantages of Silage making

  • Ensures regular supply of fodder to the dairy animals
  • Ensures uniform quality and digestibility of fodder during different seasons.
  • Enhances milk yield of dairy animals by ensuring fodder supply, especially during lean period.
  • Helps in maintaining better health of animal, as parasites present in different stages of green fodder are destroyed during ensiling.

Fodder crops suitable for silage making

  • Quality silage can be prepared from cereal green fodder i.e. Maize, Sorghum, Bajra, Hybrid Napier, Oat, etc. Cereal green fodder is preferred as these are rich in soluble carbohydrates and hence are more suitable for fodder ensiling. Sugar is utilized in fermentation process to make lactic acid by microorganism.  Lactic acid act as preservative also helps in improving digestion of fodder and proper utilization by ruminants.
  • Silage based on Maize crop is mostly used in Dairy industry as it is very nutritious with 8-9% protein.
  • In India, maize is the 3rd most important food crops after rice and wheat. The maize is cultivated throughout the year in different parts of the country for various purposes including grain, fodder, green cobs, sweet corn, baby corn, popcorn etc.
  • The major maize growing states that contributes more than 80% of the total maize production are Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh. Maize can be grown in all seasons viz Kharif (monsoon), post monsoon, Rabi (winter) and spring
  • Under proper storage condition, silage can be stored even up to 2 years.

Different types of Silage making

  • Various modes of making silage are being used namely bales silage, vacuum packing, bag silage etc of which mechanised application of PE Bale silage is flourishing the most.

Bale silage

  • To conserve and store green fodder for livestock using the natural process of fermentation.
  • Baled silage is prepared by preserving chaffed green fodder in anaerobic fermentation method. In anaerobic condition i.e. no air inside a bale in presence of microorganisms, sugar contained in green fodder is converted into lactic acid, which helps process of fermentation of green fodder in to silage.
  • Almost all forages can be ensiled to some extent, maize being most popular.

Process & Features

  • Moisture content, chop length, silage distribution and compaction (minimises aerobic activity & maximises anaerobic activity) can greatly influence the fermentation process and losses.
  • Finely chopped high quality fodder with 10% carbohydrate are fermented with/without inoculant as per local needs and by compacting.
  • Tightly packed chopped green fodder with UV stabilized PE Bale silage film are stored for proper ensiling (inner and outer layer).

Packaging Material: Technical Textile (HDPE Net) and Bale silage film

  • Outer layer is UV stabilized PE bale silage film (Relene LLDPE Octene film grade has now been stabilized and being used in making bale silage film, there are no. of supply chain on Pan India basis).
  • Inner layer may be either Technical Textile HDPE Net (UV stabilized, 9-10 gsm, Relene HD raffia grade) or UV stabilized PE bale silage film depending upon type of machines. Technical Textile HDPE Net enables hassle free baling, dimensional stability.

Can be used round the year as a high nutritious feed for better milk yield and higher SNF in dairy animals, as a substitute for green fodder.

Advantages of Bale silage

  • Easily digestible, high in protein.
  • Less dependent on weather conditions, provide fodder round the year.
  • Can be stored in the field and easily transported within farm.
  • Limited capital investment, minimum labour, low transport and storage cost.
  • Used Bale silage film can be effectively recycled.

Machines for Bale Silage:

  • More than 150 bale silage machines of different capacities and make are in operational in India both imported (Orkel, Fateh Makina, Chinese, etc) and indigenous (Bakhsish Inds, Cornext, etc), Bale silage varies from 80 kgs to 450 kgs.

Promotion Bale silage:

  • Gradual depletion of green pasture across India is a major growth deterrent of milk production GOI spends lot of money per year on fodder purchase or as subsidy for green fodder storage using traditional methods.
  • However, the shortage of fodder during lean season is growing as the age-old silo digging process is labour oriented and highly capital intensive.
  • Starting from the initial concept development stage to the current cusp of the silage packaging revolution in the country, efforts continued to catalyse the change in the Dairy sector.
  • To address fodder scarcity issue arising out of drought in villages, Animal Husbandry, Maharashtra announced 3 schemes -i) Raje Yashwantrao Holkar scheme -to install 25 mini silage bale wrapper machine ii) Nanaji Deshmukh Krishi Sanjivani Yojna (Pocra) – subsidy on purchase of Bale silage machine in all drought affected villages iii) Tender for supply of huge quantity of silage.
  • AHD-AP identified Livestock as a growth engine & offer subsidy on Bale silage machines. Also issued a tender for purchase of huge quantity of Bale silage.
  • Success stories in Punjab: Silage industry has well established in Punjab area. Punjab Dairy Development Board has recently included Bale silage machine in the notification. Also, Agriculture department, for the first time included in notification, the usage of drip pipe for maize crop with subsidy, a basic crop, raw material for making Bale silage. Use of micro irrigation and mulch in future will help in enhancing yield of the crop, hence above development is going to give big boost to Silage industry particularly Bale Silage in Punjab.
  • The acceptance of PE Bale silage continues to grow leaps and bounds at various corners of the country now, currently its requirement is @ 10.5 lakh T, which is expected to grow to 10 Million Tons in next 5 years’ time.    

Bale silage film:

Bale silage film (Recycling):

  • After usage of Silage, the Agri bale silage film should not be thrown in the field and can be sold to recyclers which fetches some value of the film to the farmer, Dairies. This recycled film can be converted in to useful products like furniture garden benches, pallets, Lapeta pipe, drip, etc

Potential of Silage Industry (all variants) in India (Billion Rs):

Potential Silage Industry  
Total Number of Cows and Buffaloes (Cr): 17.1
Average no. Green Fodder Scarcity (days per year): 150
Minimum Amount of Silage to be fed to Animal /day (Kg): 10
Amount of Silage Required in India (Cr. Tons): 25.65
Average Market Price of Silage (Rs per Ton): 5500
Potential Industry size in (billion Rs): 1410
Potential: Silage packaging material (Bale silage / Bag)  
Qty of Bale silage/ Bags required to pack 5% 0f total potential (Cr. Tons) 1.2825
Price of Bale silage / Bag (Rs/T) 140000
Potential for Bale silage/ Bags required to pack 5% total potential (Billion Rs) 1795
Total Potential of Silage (including packaging) Industry (Billion Rs) 3206


  • We look back with satisfaction, and look at the current scenario with firm belief to be leading the dairy sector to a way towards solving the round the year fodder availability in the country
  • The keen interest of the Co-operative and private sector in the business of silage with large capital infusions, the acceptance of packed silage among dairy farmers and the readiness of farmers to take up fodder crops as a remunerative production option plus the state governments supporting the process with subsidies for machineries are all setting into motion a cycle of hope which in the future would grow into a great revolution. 
  • We look forward with hope, that silage as a key fodder input in the dairy sector, would alleviate the major constraint of round the year availability of fodder in the dairy sector
  • The expected announcement of National Dairy Plan, phase 2 (NDP-2), promoted as Mission Milk, having outlay of 8000 crores, spread over 5 years, will provide further thrust in enhancing milk processing capacity and infrastructure for which silage will play a major role on the feed input side of year-round nutritious fodder availability across the country!

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