Ken, Re your Small Scale Silage.

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Carol K, May 17, 2005.

  1. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Hi Ken,
    remember your small scale silage write up in the March/April 2002 Countryside, well I'm going to try to do the grass silage this year and try it out on my Dexters. I have 2 questions for you (or anyone else that knows) how long before the silage can be used, I've read it should be left 21 days at least? And secondly, what should it look like when it's ready? I've only ever seen corn silage, what does grass silage look like? Oh, maybe one more thing, lol, I thought silage drained, if I do the grass silage in the bags, what about drainage? Or am I getting that bit wrong?

    Carol K
     
  2. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    I might be able to help with grass silage, as I put some up (started last year). Drainage should be minimal if done properly, I did not have any at all, I use a silo. With a bag I am not sure what the moisture content should be, but in a silo it is chopped around 65% (optimal percentage), the range is 60-70%. Most people start at 70% due to the day being dry, and it drying through the day so when they are done it isn't too dry. On average it takes anywhere from 6 hours to 18 hours to dry the grass down to be chopped. Alfalfa takes longer, orchard grass takes less time. It also depends on temperature, sunlight and how wet the ground is.


    Not sure if you wanted that bit of info, but nevertheless.


    As far as time before it is to be used, funny you can feed grass silage as soon as it's chopped. I have to our beef cattle, neighbor does it and others as well. They see better milk production and with my beefers they put on some decent weight with that fresh stuff. But for fermenting, 2-3 weeks is what you want to wait for. Let it cook. The color should be a brownish color, light color with some green to it. The stuff I took out of our silo had a tannish/brownish/with a hint of green in it. Some of it tested 16% or so. Wasn't the best due to the time it was chopped (later). The 2nd came out higher at around 18% or so, didn't have as much green. The smell is funny, if it doesn't smell I've read that is not a good sign, if it has a strong alchohol odor, that's not good. It has to have a grassy smell IMO. Basically, the smell of the chopped stuff when it sits for several hours. Ours does, and the animals love it. I know they grew well on it.


    Grass silage is interesting stuff, and if done right is excellent feed. Up untill this past winter I never fed it, was hay only. That stuff when they get accustomed to it is like candy. I wonder at times if its like a drug, as they will fight each other over it, and they chomp it like grain. It also seems to fill them out nicely..



    Jeff
     

  3. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Jeff,
    thanks that does help. Kens article was for doing it in a really (and I mean REALLY) small way. Like using the lawn mower and bagging that and turning into silage. I'm going to try it, heck I only have a few Dexters and I love to experiment. His article says to cut and bag early in the morning at high moisture, for some reason I was thinking that it also had to drain, but I guess not. Now you've explained what it should look like, I'm more confident, just have to get a good way of getting all the air out. Well, I'll let you know how my "project" goes, Thanks

    Carol K
     
  4. NRS Farm

    NRS Farm Well-Known Member

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    I think this (air removal) is a big factor. In a normal silo the air is consumed in the fermentation process. With a lot of silage the spoilage would be minimal compared to the volume of silage. In the "trash" bag sizes you would not have much silage to consume the air. I think I would recommend a lot of squeezing or pressing of the grass in the bag. I think you would need a very tight closure as well. But I don't see why it wouldn't work otherwise. I read Ken's article as well...but need to reread it to see how he addressed the air removal procedures. In any case do let us know how it turns out. I usually feed my grass clippings the same day and don't have any spare grass for making into small silage bags.
     
  5. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    OHHHHH using the lawn clippings, it would work but what I would be scared of is the moisture content. Remember, grass is wet and since your in the same state, same sorta climate, our grass is generally wet. What I would do in your situation, is to make sure its 100% air tight so those clippings would not spoil. See grass silage is stored at 60-70%, the lawn would be much higher. I would experiment before going for it, buy a plastic barrell. Something that has a lid that can be closed, and clamped shut. We have one for grain, and it seems air tight. This should keep the air out almost completely. With using a barrel like that, you could fill it up, pack it in. Now let it set for 2 weeks. Open it up, and dump it out, see what it looks like. Is there mold? Does it smell good? If it doesn't rot, get super hot (spontaneous combustion type stuff), then you would have some fairly fresh stuff. Too bad there wasn't a way to "harvest" the lawn, so it could be sealed @ 65% moisture.



    We too fed grass clippings, they love it. Once the bull ate too much. He got drunk..

    Jeff
     
  6. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Jeff, I will experiment, I know that getting the air out is a major factor so I'll be working hard to figure out what works best. I'll try barrels and bagc and see how it goes. I have no idea just how to figure out when it is at 75% moisture though, so that may be my hardest thing to overcome.

    http://www.new-agri.co.uk/04-2/develop/dev02.html

    http://www.fao.org/documents/show_cdr.asp?url_file=/DOCREP/005/X8486E/x8486e13.htm

    These are a couple of links that I found were they make silage in bags in Kenya and the other link tells you that they make silage out of just about anything, they may be helpful to someone.

    Carol
     
  7. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Packing down the clippings will extrude most of the air. You can also step down the bag before sealing.

    If you do find effluence (spelling? - liquid at the bottom of the bag), try placing it in a bowl. Your livestock may readily consume it.

    If you start with perhaps and inch or so of whole kernel corn at the bottom, then add more (several kernels thick) between layers they will absorbe moisture and be readily digestible when fed with the contents.

    You will likely have to do some trial and error to find out what works for you.

    Ken Scharabok