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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!
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 1 0 . 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 1 1 . 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 1 2 . 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... 1 3 . 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 1 4 . 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 1 5 . When   filling   low   dry   matter   or   very   leguminous   forage   don’t   add water or molasses but Maize Germ Meal, Wheat Bran or Pollard
1 6 . Tightly   packing   is   important   but   chopping   not   absolutely   essential,   even   long   standing   hay   or   whole maize stover will ensilage successfully 1 7 . 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