Proper silage feedout management is crucial in maintaining consistent and high quality ensiled forages and high moisture grains. Poor management will easily double the shrink loss. Feed quality and consistency will also be affected which will cause health and production problems to the animals.
Porosity is the main culprit.
Proper moisture, particle size, compaction as well as sealing methods are key to maintain anaerobic conditions.
It is encourage to remove and dispose of visible moldy feed from the sides and top of the storage structure.
Proper Feedout Practices
It is especially important to have proper feedout practices in place during warm periods of the year as biological activity of aerobic bacteria and yeast organisms increases tremendously as the temperature rise.
On the other hand, it is difficult to stay ahead of aerobic instability during spring and summer.
It is common to have bunk-life problems with harvested forages that have been rained on before they are chopped on ensiled.
Rain can cause bacteria and fungi onto the crop, "seeding" the silage with spoilage organisms.
When crops are stressed by drought, insect or hail damage will generally possess elevated fungi counts.
Proper management and protocols need to be followed when ensiling these crops.
The first rule for stable silage is to obtain a low terminal pH.
This will produce a hostile environment that inhibits the propagation of spoilage microorganisms such as aerobic bacteria, yeast or mold.
The second rule would be to maintain an anaerobic or oxygen free environment for as much of the silage as possible.
Silages should be removed from the bunker and pile faces by shaving the silage face from top to bottom or peeling the silage horizontally with the front end loader bucket instead of lifting the bucket from bottom to top.
Lifting will create fracture lines in the silage mass, allowing oxygen to enter, sustaining an aerobic activity.
Silage facers are becoming more popular as they "blend" feed across the entire face and cleanly remove the silage without disrupting compaction or producing air fissures.
Safety Reminders For Working Around Silage Bunkers
There has been an alarming increase in reported incidents of silage avalanches causing machinery damage or worse, worker injury or death.
Here are some safety reminders when working around silage bunkers or piles:
Another person should always be present at the bunker when sampling feed or removing top spoilage.
It is encouraged to obtain feed samples at the mixer wagon and not the silage face.
When standing on top of horizontal bunkers, stay at least 15 feet behind the face.
Do not be lifted in front-end loader or skid-steer buckets to procure samples or check densities from higher points.
When working around bunkers and piles that have visible silage leachate and slippery, wet conditions, be extra careful.