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We utilize following forage for silage making: Natural pasture grass, unchopped/chopped and maize stover unchopped. The   coarser   the   forage,   the   tighter   you   have   to   pack   it.   Therefore   we   have   developed   different   designs   of   silage   pits   to   use for the different types of forages. One   of   the   most   crucial   and   important   aspects   of   designing   a   good   silo   is   to   ensure   that   withdrawal   amount   of   ready   silage   is a   minimum   of   4”,   still   better   6”   of   the   opened   silo-face   every   day.   Removing   less   will   expose   the   ready   silage   to   the   air   for too long which will drastically reduce it’s feeding value for your cows. The   cheapest   way   for   chopped   forage   is   to   build   it   up   in   long   heaps   above   ground,   compaction   can   be   achieved   through walking   over   it   (tractor   run   over   it   would   be   more   effective...),   build   it   up   to   2   metres   high,   6   metres   wide   and   try   to continuously   cover   it   up   by   polythene   sheeting   as   soon   as   a   couple   of   metres   of   fill   are   achieved.   Your   cows   will   love   this silage,   spoilage   is   minimal   as   flooding   is   impossible   and   as   long   as   the   cover   is   air-   and   water   tight   the   silage   will   remain   good quality   for   many   years.   Whole   stalk   maize   stover   can   also   be   integrated   into   layers   of   chopped   grass   but   must   be   chopped when fed. Our longest silage pits of this design are about 70 metres long and carry 100 trailers of grass. If   you   have   no   machinery   at   all,   not   even   for   rent,   the   best   way   (and   in   the   long   run   even   cheaper   option   than   above)   to   make silage   is   to   harvest   long   grown   natural   grass,   slightly   dry   it   (a   day   will   do)   and   store   it   in   vertical   pits   (their   diameter   should be   slightly   less   than   their   depth   or   hight).   Cheap   design   and   building   plans    are   available   for   those   interested.   Walking   over   it is   even   more   important   with   this   type   of   silage,   especially   if   unchopped   forage   is   used.   This   type   of   silage   can   be   fed   whole or   chopped   after   removing   it   from   the   pit.   The   greatest   disadvantage   of   this   way   of   silage   making   is   that   once   opened,   the forage   must   continuously   be   fed   until   all   is   used   and   it   doesn’t   store   well   over   the   next   rain   season.   Only   remedy   for   these problems  is to build a roof over the pit to prevent rain water from entering inside the silage which would totally destroy it. Three   years   along   and   we   have   reached   the   point   that   we   can   no   longer   afford   to   hire   a   tractor!   Despite   of   all   our   efforts we   are   sinking   so   deep   that   we   surely   soon   will   be   coming   out   in   China...   So   we   have   settled   on   the   following   method   of   silage making,   instructions   to   build   the   pit   and   many   pictures   are   included.   Building   the   pit,   all   inclusive,   costs   exactly   the   amount you   would   pay   to   hire   a   tractor   for   the   same   amount   of   forage   harvested!   But   the   pit   can   be   reused   for   years   to   come   and wastage/spoilage   of   forage   is   close   to   none.   Also   the   polythene   sheeting   used   to   cover   the   silage   is   less   than   a   quarter   than when doing it the conventional way. So apart from being much more environmentally friendly it is extremely cost effective!
Silage   is   our   most   important   fodder   reserve   to   get   the   dairy herd   through   the   dry   season.   In   bad   years   the   dry   season   may last   from   November   till   May   without   a   drop   of   rain.   Then   all animals are fully dependent on being fed. Apart   from   our   23   year   old   Canter   we   own   no   other   motor vehicles.   All   tractors,   trailers   or   other   machinery   pictured   are hired and must work hard to repay their rent. Below a very short insight into the “art” of silage making...
Silage Pit Designs Silage Pit Designs