May 12th - 2021

Silage production part 6

Feed-out

Once all the demanding work of ensiling the crop at its best is done and its well-sealed in the clamp with Oxygen Barrier Films, Covers and well weighted down the next step will be opening when required. This may be 4 weeks or 8 months depending of the need but when it happens the trick is to follow these guidelines to keep the silage as fresh as possible for as long as possible and so increase its potential feed value.

Feed-out as rapidly as possible. Keep a clean, smooth, and vertical exposed silage face with no loose silage lying around at the end of the day.

Silage is unstable on exposure to air during the feed-out period. Air can penetrate up to 1 metre behind the silage face.

Peripheral areas – the top metre, the shoulders, and the sides - are the most prone to aerobic spoilage because they are the least dense and most porous regions of the silo.

Heating of silage 0.25 to 0.5 metres behind the exposed face indicates that aerobic spoilage is occurring. Some silage can heat up within 12 to 24 hours after exposure to air, especially in summer and in warmer regions where ambient temperatures are high.

If it takes 7 days to move across the face when unloading, all silage will have been exposed to air for 7 days and can lose a significant amount of DM (Dry Matter) during the period of exposure to air.

If feed-out is halted for any reason, leave the exposed face undisturbed. Do not cover it with a plastic sheet as this will create a moist environment that encourages mould and yeast growth and increases the risk of mycotoxin formation. Cut back and discard all spoiled silage before feed-out recommences.

Target feed-out progression rate.

Speed of feed-out, known as progression rate, should be faster in summer than in winter.

Slow feed-out progression might be unavoidable due to the bunker or pile being too wide. If there is a recurrent problem of aerobic deterioration, crops should be treated at harvest with an additive designed to increase silage aerobic stability.

Loose silage.

Loose silage has been fully aerated and should not be left lying on the floor at the front of the feed-out face for more than 6 hours before being given to livestock.

Inedible silage

Silostop OB (Oxygen Barrier) film reduces the amount of inedible silage to be discarded.

Inedible silage is discoloured, has an off-smell, and might include a black slimy layer. If this material is accidentally included in the animals’ diet, dry matter intake and nutrient digestibility can be reduced significantly.

Take care when removing inedible silage. Silage is unstable at the feed-out face and can collapse without warning. Do not walk near the top edge of the feed-out face.

Our trial work has shown that by using a Silostop OB film you can reduce your inedible silage significantly which means much more forage to feed to the animals and less or zero wasted and needing disposal. Saving both time and money.

Tim Brewer