The Fermenation and Predigestion of High Moisture Forages
Complex Plant Structures
Many forage plants contain large amounts of partial or non-digestible carbohydrate fiber complexes in the form of hemi-cellulose, cellulose, and lignin. These plant structures can make up 80 percent or more of a plant’s total biomass. The normal rumen cycle is too short to break these structures down, thus the potential energy and nutrition are lost to the animal, passing through in the manure. However, if you can break these complex structures down and make them available to the animal, they hold vast reserves of potential energy and nutrition. There are numerous methods of fermenting and predigesting forages. Some forage is fermented in large pits as silage or haylage, while some is fermented in bags. Most operations rely on the natural microbes to ferment their forage. The problem with this method is that there are too many toxins that try to take over. This often results in mold, spoilage, and more toxins. Bio Minerals Technologies has a better way.
Reduction of Fibers - Improved Nutrient Uptake
High moisture fermentation, using the appropriate beneficial anaerobic microorganisms, provides the tools and time required to predigest these complex plant structures, breaking them apart into smaller units that can be digested by the animals. Hemi-cellulose, cellulose, and lignin are comprised of complex chains of glucose molecules. Glucose is a carbohydrate, and is the most important simple sugar in animal and human metabolism.
Glucose is one of the primary molecules which serves as an energy source for plants and animals. It is a monosaccharide containing 6 carbons, 12 hydrogens, and 6 oxygens and is readily usable in cellular respiration. Hemi-cellulose structures can contain from 500 to 3,000 glucose units, cellulose structures are comprised of 7,000 to 15,000 glucose units, and lignin structures contain more than 15,000 glucose units! That is a lot of energy that passes through the animal, untouched and unused.
These complex structures need much more time to be dismantled into smaller units that can be available to the organism consuming them. During high-moisture fermentation, the microbes dismantle these complex glucose chains and make much more of this energy available to the animals. Extended fermentation prior to animal digestion is the key to converting complex carbohydrates into usable energy and nutrition.
Forages are evaluated on a dry matter basis for proteins, digestible fibers – carbohydrates, and mineral ratios. Values such as RFV (Relative Feed Value), RFQ (Relative Feed Quality) or TDN (Total Digestible Nutrients) are assigned to the forage. However, when you employ the correct blends of beneficial anaerobic microorganisms with a complete spectrum of minerals, the microorganisms begin the decomposition and reconstruction of the forage materials into far superior nutrient compounds which are more readily absorbed by the animal.
Through the fermentation and predigestion processes the microbes actually produce additional compounds that were not in the original plant. They produce:
- vitamins (both fat and water soluble)
- organic acids
- volatile fatty acids- acetic acid, butyric acid and propionic acid
- essential fatty acids
- linoleic or Omega 6 which converts to arachidonic acid –AA
- linolenic or Omega 3 which converts to eicosapentaenoic acid - EPA
- proteins and amino acids
- enzymes (both digestive and metabolic)
- growth stimulators
- mineral compounds
In addition to the increased nutrient uptake and the formulation of new nutrients not formerly found in the forages, the beneficial microorganisms also produce targeted antibiotics that control and eliminate pathogenic organisms. They also produce other metabolic compounds in the fermenting forages and these benefits continue on into the rumen or digestive system, offering a host of health and immune boosting benefits to the animal.
Biological fermentation (extended predigestion) results in reduced carbohydrate structures for increased feed conversion and improved nutrient uptake to the animal. Superior forms of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are produced by the beneficial microorganism. The superior nutrients improve the animal growth and production, and the secondary compounds provide natural pathogen and disease control, eliminating the need for toxic and harmful commercial antibiotics.
If you want to see what the theory looks like in practice, take a look at the data from our fermented forage trials.