Microorganisms in silage production
Lactic bacteria are used in the production of silage, which is fed to ruminant animals such as cows and sheep. This animal feed product is a fermentation of grass, alfalfa or corn, and the bacteria are added to ensure the nutritive elements of these products are preserved. A silo is filled with the crop, and although the bacteria which is naturally present can be sufficient to start the fermentation, bacteria such as Lactobacillus plantarum are usually added. Within two days, an anaerobic fermentation is under way, which converts sugars to acids over a period of about two weeks. Although some of the available energy is lost during fermentation, far more of the crop’s nutrients are retained by converting it to silage than if it had been preserved by drying.