Making silage

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Rob30, Jan 4, 2007.

  1. Rob30

    Rob30 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am looking for info on making silage. I want to be able to make silage with easy to come buy equipment. Not "barrels full", but serious amount of silage. Suitable amounts for feeding a herd of 50+ goats and 5 cattle. I am looking for more info on pit silage. Anybody with any info.
     
  2. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    I can't offer you much info, only a little.

    My dad gave silage a try one year and abandoned it rapidly. He had the pit silo dug into flat ground meaning the juices from the fermenting silage couldn't drain away. Dad gave away or sold very cheaply most of the silage as our cattle wouldn't eat it. What I'm saying is do you have enough of a raised away where the silage can drain as it ferments? Often cut into a rise or slight hillside.

    I have hauled silage from cutters while working for one farmer back in the 60s. From this and other knowledge I do know that most silage cutters must have a tractor with 80 to 90 MINIMUM horsepower.

    Where I was at Gehl or Bearcat seemed to be the cutters of choice.

    Unlike many, I like the smell of silage when it is finished.
     

  3. Karin L

    Karin L Bovine and Range Nerd

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    First off, before I start on anything, I'd like to say that we make silage, and we've been doing it for a few years now. Cattle love it; it's just like candy to them (if cattle like it, then goats will too, no doubt).

    First of all, what silage "plant" do you plan on harvesting? Barley, corn, hay/grass? Mixed of the three?

    Some people go to all the effort of digging a pit for silage, but we just lay it on the ground and pack it with the heavyduty dually tractor. Then cover it with silage plastic and put bales on top to weigh it down. Tires'll work too, but heavy round bales will work best to pack it down good. Top and all 4 sides.

    There's different forage harvesters you can get, the tractor-pulled ones or the self-propelled. My advice is to get a good used one, fairly new, but used.
    And a high-dump to go with it (used as well), if you don't want to hire some silage truckers to haul for ya. With a high dump, you just dump in a grain truck and drive over to your designated dumping area.

    You got to pack every few loads, cause if you don't it'll make things tougher to pile up and pack. Just makes things a bit more organised and neater.

    Leave it sit for 4 or 5 months: 5 I think I'm stretching a bit, 4 months is usually the max.

    That's my two cents for you. BTW, I got pics of the silaging we did this past summer, if you wanna see them. And good luck to you too. :) :hobbyhors
     
  4. Karin L

    Karin L Bovine and Range Nerd

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    Oh and one other thing. I can't remember off hand what the power of forage harvester that we had, but it's one of the smaller ones, that bit I know.
     
  5. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    I put up silage for a few years. We hired them to cut it and blow it in the silo. I don't think it would be cost effective to buy all equipment to do so for your small herd (unless you can get equipment real cheap, or hire out to help pay for it).

    My cows loved it and came through the winter looking 100% better than they did on hay and lick tubs.

    Jena
     
  6. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    think plastic, pour the cut material on too the plas tic then fold over and bury the edges! for your horse power you will need an older model with a fly wheel dion ,gehl papec. these tend too run about $500. an old forage wagon bout $800. also spray inoculant on it, helps with fermentation.
     
  7. DaleK

    DaleK Well-Known Member

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    Depends what you're wanting. If you want corn, for that few animals, you can't really afford to build a pit narrow enough (you have to feed enough off the face every day to keep it fresh). We're running two bunkers 36x10x100' but only feeding out of one at a time. We still have some trouble keeping enough fed off it with 160 head. Even with an AgBag you probably aren't going to be able to feed it fast enough to keep it fresh. Your best bet for corn is probably to buy it from somebody.
    If you want haylage or barley silage go with wrapped bales. For that few animals you'd probably have to go with individually wrapped bales.
     
  8. BeckyW

    BeckyW Well-Known Member

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    Our next door neighbor does silage. No pit, piled on ground and packed in long mounds by driving their tractor on it. Then covered with plastic weighted down with old tires. Some may like the smell of it - not me! - but cows seem to love it!
    BW
     
  9. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    Can you get a neighbor to put it in plastic bags for you? Can you hire it cut and hauled? That can be pretty cheep / You would need a narrow shallow pit you want to feed about a foot a day from the face .sorta picture how many bales you feed each day and how they would have to be stacked to use a foot a day remeber you have to pack it in the pit/pile so ifits narrow youhave tofigger what you will use to pack it.
     
  10. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    Not Silage.But we use to raise Cane Sorghum.Cut it and shock it up.Fed it to Cows all Winter,loved the smell.I'm sure Goats would like it too.

    big rockpile
     
  11. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Don't overlook haylage. Essentially the mowed down grass is only allowed to dry for a couple of hours before it is harvested, either into silos or bagged up or wrapped.

    If you have the capability to put up round bales now look at the Hay Wrap system. If is a 3-point hitch unit which works off of the tractor's hydraulics. A spear captures the bale and then an arm is along the side which is used to wrap 2-4 layers of plastic around the bales, including over the ends, leaving a hole in the middle. These are then windrowed. On the first one extra plastic is manually used to cover up the hole. The next is bumped into the first, creating a seal. Thus continues until the last bale, which has its end likewise sealed. Bales can then be fed out using a regular tractor hay spear. With the bale lifted you cut off the plastic near the bottom of one side and pull off. Not biodegradeable so I to pack used wrapping into a garbage can with a two trash bag liner and then put them in the local trash collection point dumpster.

    I didn't put up haylage but rather hay this way. Virtually no waste. Sold off the Hay Wrap unit when my custom cutter switched from the old large round bales to the new compact ones. Spear on the Hay Wrap was simply too large to force into them. I believe Hay Wrap has now addressed this problem. Cost was about $3.00 extra a bale, but I feel it was more than offset in much less waste.
     
  12. Liese

    Liese Namaste

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    For someone with only 30 some to feed and old hay cutting equipment (1950's), woulld it be safe to consider cutting the hay, letting it dry slightly (how do you measure moisture, anyway?) and then packing it in trash bags- black or clear? How would the amatuer farmer know whether this "haylage" was safe to feed or a case for listeriosis? Searching on the Internet hasn't given me any answers. I am working on getting the fields into pastures for nearly year round rotational grazing but would also like to get away from being a victim of drought conditions that limit hay, hay quality but increases hay prices. Here in this area of NC/VA the going rate for fescue (which the sheep & goats dislike anyway) is $4-5/ sq. bale. OG must be sold before even cut-totally unavailable! The $20 round bales I bought are stem and full of bramble briars-sheesh. Liese, Piedmont region, NC