Forage Storage Strategy: How to Better Plan for the Long Term

Forage Storage Strategy: How to Better Plan for the Long Term
6/19/2017

When cows respond positively to a new forage, it’s rewarding to see the results of the hard work you put into harvesting and storing quality forages in a timely manner. But what about the times when your herd does not respond well or develops health issues as a result of a pile or bunker not stored in an ideal manner?

With the everyday demands of running a successful dairy, it’s easy to take for granted the decision of where to place the next cutting of haylage, small-grain silage or the upcoming year’s worth of corn silage.

The question now becomes: “How can I reduce risk by improving the way my forage is stored?”

Here are a few ideas dairy producers use to successfully answer this question:

  1. With a long-term view on potential expansion, decide how much concrete is needed to store additional tons of forage properly.

  2. Add gravel bags at the edges of your pile or bunker to effectively seal the more vulnerable area of your forage.

  3. Use a flexible and strong oxygen-barrier plastic below your normal top layer of plastic to reduce shrink and, in most cases, eliminate spoiled forage.

  4. If you are rained out in the middle of chopping, temporarily cover your silage. Yes, you will be an unpopular employer for a couple days. However, your cows will thank you when that black line of spoilage is eliminated.

  5. Consider chopping 24 hours a day to reduce shrink, reduce the chance of a weather delay and drive a more efficient fermentation. This may require extra employees, or your custom harvester may not be able to accommodate this schedule. However, the improvement in fermentation and subsequent forage quality from this method can be outstanding.

To read the full article on how to better plan for the long term of your forage, click here.

Tags: Forage, Management Tips