• Alternatives to formic acid as a grass silage additive under two contrasting ensilability conditions

      Lorenzo, B. Fernandez; O'Kiely, Padraig (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland, 2008)
      The effects of formic acid and four alternative additives on silage fermentation, in-silo DM losses and aerobic stability were compared in an experiment using both difficultto- ensile (DIFF) and easier-to-ensile (EASI) herbages. Both were ensiled in laboratory silos with either no additive or following the application of formic acid (FA; 850 g/kg) at 3 mL/kg herbage, Add-SaFeR® (ATF1) and GrasAAT® (ATF2), both based on ammonium tetraformate, at 4 mL/kg herbage, an antimicrobial mixture (MIX; potassium formate, sodium disulfite and sodium benzoate) at 3 g/kg herbage, or Ecosyl (LAB; Lactobacillus plantarum) at 3 mL/kg herbage. There were four replicates per treatment and the silos were stored for 132 days. DIFF silage made without additive was poorly fermented. All additives increased the extent and improved the direction of DIFF silage fermentation, and reduced in-silo losses. However, MIX did not reduce butyric acid concentration and increased the extent of aerobic deterioration. LAB had a smaller effect on fermentation and in-silo losses than FA. With EASI silages, all additives restricted the extent of fermentation and improved fermentation quality, with the latter effect being smaller than for DIFF silages. LAB promoted a particularly homolactic fermentation but subsequently increased aerobic deterioration. In both DIFF and EASI silages additive treatment improved in vitro digestibility. It is concluded that only ATF1, ATF2 and MIX were as effective as FA at improving silage preservation and reducing in-silo losses with both DIFF and EASI herbages. However, ATF1 and ATF2 were superior in reducing the apparent extent of proteolysis and MIX was slightly less effective at reducing the activity of saccharolytic Clostridia.