As spring approaches, the anticipation of forage harvest arrives. Put your anticipation into action by evaluating your storage for the upcoming silage season. Here are some points to consider from Maurice Eastridge, professor and extension dairy specialist at The Ohio State University:
• If bunker silos are used, it’s time to order plastic and evaluate the need for additional materials to weigh down the plastic. If additional tires will be needed, now is the time to obtain them and slice them.
• Maximizing packing density will increase storage capacity and reduce fermentation losses. Will there need to be a change in packing equipment to improve this on your farm?
• If upright silos are used, do the unloaders need repair or servicing? If the unloaders are in need of replacement, is it time to use a bunker or bags instead? Do the silo structures, especially the doors, need repair?
• If bags are used, does there need to be a change in the slope to improve drainage and is additional stone needed to provide a solid surface for improving the removal of silage from the bags? Freezing and thawing during the winter could mean you need additional stone now.
• Regardless of storage structure, has the feeding program or herd structure changed? If so, you may need to construct additional storage for your forage.
Based on current hay prices, alfalfa forage is selling for 15 to 20 cents per pound (dry matter). Adequate storage of forage to maintain quality and minimize spoilage is critical to the profitability of your farm.