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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...