Ensilage aims to maintain feed value and, consequently, the composition of nutrients as far as possible. In the case of grass silage, the objective is also to minimise degradation of raw protein. Animals should thus receive as much protein contained in the origin feed as possible to an optimum quality standard. To achieve this, the entire process must be devised in the best possible way – from the field and ensilaging through to the way silage is removed from storage. Proteolytic conversion or degradation processes take place at all stages in this process. These cause a relatively high loss of pure protein and an increase in easily soluble nitrate compounds (ammonia).
Shape protein degradation
It does not matter if proteolytic conversion and degradation processes are enzymatic or microbial. They will always produce a loss of valuable pure protein and also cause amino acids to convert into ammonia and other undesirable substances, such as amines. It is not possible to prevent a certain degree of protein degradation during ensilage, but it can be minimised if the ensilage process is devised in a suitable way.
Different external factors have an impact on protein degradation. Key influences include the rate of decrease in the pH value, dry matter content or the duration of wilting and temperature development in silages. All these factors can be easily controlled using effective silage management during the different stages of the process – from the field to removal.