free counters
If you have the right type of machinery and a big farm to work them on silage making is a real joy. It is much easier than  making hay and rapidly replaces most other methods of forage conservation. The quality of the final product can be  ensured  & maintained much more reliably, because you are so much less dependant on prevailing weather conditions!   The latest approach of making large round bales of haylage wrapped in plastic sheeting (all of which is done by special  machinery) is gaining in popularity very rapidly and some of the nicest silage/haylage I have ever encountered is made by  this method. Environmental compatibility (think about the huge quantities of plastic packing material...) should surely be  considered much more than is presently done and nothing spoils beautiful scenery more than a mountain of silage bales...  Silage made in concrete bunkers has the distinct disadvantages of not being ration-able (once opened it should all continually  be used up), portable (in case you have too much and wish to sell it...) and needing a permanent structure. For some sort of  forages as chopped maize and brewers waste which can’t be packed in round bales it is the obvious choice. As it must be  filled up as fast as possible and also needs powerful compaction you will still require heavy machinery to make it.   The perfect solution for manually making the world’s best silage Not having any machinery of our own, silage making used to be a major nightmare for us, year after year... We never knew  whether a tractor would be available for hire and at which cost and many times we didn’t have a large enough piece of  pasture available. When we finally managed to solve above the real nightmare was just only starting: Half the time was  anxiously spent waiting for the tractor and machinery to be repaired (while we were in the middle of a silage heap!), the  other half it usually rained so heavily that we had to wait for drier conditions. How we ever managed to finish a single heap  without me having died of a nervous breakdown in the meantime, is now a mystery to me! Well, I was still much younger than...  Tower Silos and wells have caused many fatalities through suffocation! Before you even consider building or using this type  of silo design please heed following warnings carefully and never forget about the risk involved!  Never work in or around a tower silo alone! Somebody must always be present on the outside to observe and initiate  rescue in case of an accident  If you feel even the slightest bit if dizzy while inside a silo get out at once!   Before ever entering a tower silo make sure the conditions at the bottom are safe. Working in windy weather is helpful,  ventilating the inside before entering is an absolute must (like adding a lot of forage beforehand) and testing would be  optimal. An ancient method of testing (air conditions in mining...) is still really useful for tower silos today: Lower a bird  in a cage or cockerel on a long tether to the bottom of the pit and observe it’s behaviour. If it remains calm and active  (and not just for a minute...) it is probably safe to enter. Otherwise pull it out immediately to prevent the bird from  coming to any harm and DO NOT enter yourself!!!   Tower silo design for mechanically assisted fill-up and withdrawal of forages calls for very tall and narrow structures.  This design is absolutely unsuitable for filling and withdrawing forages manually! Here the diameter should be very  close to the total depth, and the structure is not really a tower at all!  WARNING The pictured design has worked wonders for us & is fully described below:   1. Location: The soil should be neither too sandy nor rocky and the  ground water should never (even in the worst rain season imaginable)  approach the bottom of the pit. Slopy land or hilltop is fine but never  dig the pit in a natural depression   2. If you can’t ensure all these conditions rather build up than down  3. Dimensions depend upon the number of cow-days to be fed, our pits  of 5 meters in diameter and 6 meters deep store close to 120m³ or  80 tonnes of silage each which will feed one hundred cattle (mixed  herd) for approximately one month.   4. One of the most crucial and important aspects of designing a good  silo is to ensure that withdrawal amount of ready made silage is a  minimum of 4”, still better 6” of the opened silo-face every day.  Removing less will expose the ready silage to fresh air for too long  which will drastically reduce it’s feeding value for your cows!    5. It is wiser to build many small pits than one or few large ones  6. Only the above earth-level part is built with blocks, the underground  part is only dug, lined with weld/wire-mash and then plastered  7. Before initially using it and before every refill walls should be  thoroughly cleaned & painted with a bituminous water based paint  8. The bottom is plain earth, as free draining as possible  9. A roof to keep all rain water out is an absolute must if storage longer  than to only the next dry season is attempted  10. The polythene sheeting will only line the top meter of the pit and  cover it, before all is weighed down by a thick layer of soil   11. A 60cm high plywood sleeve temporarily installed on top of the wall  will enable a higher degree of compaction and fill and better  utilization of the silo space available   12. If the roof is build low (which helps in keeping the rain water out),  pushing the lower side temporarily up while filling the sleeve or top  part of the pit makes the job so much easier...   13. Once the silage has compacted and sunk to below the top of the wall  (which is usually within a couple of weeks) the plywood sleeve can be  removed and reused for another pit  14. Forage dry matter should be at least 30% but can be really high (even  above 50%) if sufficient water (with molasses and/or urea) is  regularly sprinkled over it while filling  15. When filling low dry matter or very leguminous forage don’t add  water or molasses but Maize Germ Meal, Wheat Bran or Pollard   16. Tightly packing is important but chopping not absolutely essential, even long standing hay or whole  maize stover will ensilage successfully  17. Slow fill (one pit takes us up to 6 weeks to complete) will ensure a higher degree of fill & compaction  and allows ample time for the crop to be “ammoniated” by the added urea before it turns into silage