Saturday, November 10, 2012
Day 10: Silage Bunker Piles - Storing all that Feed!
I was once asked, "What are those big white mounds on I-65 south of Chicago?". I had to think for a minute, and then was able to figure out that what this person from Chicago saw along the interstate as they drove south towards Indianapolis was the silage bunker piles from the Fair Oaks Dairy farm that is along the interstate. (And has a great tourable facility, if you are ever in the area!) When we chop silage, we need somewhere to store all that feed, as it needs to last until we chop the silage the following year, so we need 365 days of storage. When you take the entire corn plant & chop it up, it yields a lot of tons (20+ tons/acre, in fact). Cows also eat a lot (80+ lbs/cow/day), and corn silage is the main ingredient in their feed. Some farmers use the "pile" or bunker method to store silage (we'll cover silos tommorrow). They put the silage into giant piles, packing the feed tight with tractors to squeeze the air out, and make it an anaerobic (without oxygen) storage, so that bacteria can ferment the silage (yes, we want these bacteria to do their work!). The pile is then covered with plastic (hence the white cover), and the plastic is secured with, in many cases, tire sidewalls (remember, I said we are the original recyclers!) The plastic is removed a bit at a time as the cows are fed throughout the following year, until the pile is fed, and ready for another pile the following year.
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