As a nutrition consultant, it is your job to apply the latest technology to help clients manage their feed inputs. One possible tool to consider is an infrared camera for detecting heat loss in bunker silos.

When pointed at the face of a bunker silo, the camera displays a colormetric reading of thermal activity. If a lot of reds are showing up across the face, intense heating is taking place. Undoubtedly, yeast organisms are eating sugars in the silage, heat is being given off, and the silage is losing energy value. If, on the other hand, blues and greens are showing up consistently across the face, the silage is stable.
This offers several benefits:

  • It provides feedback for clients on how well they packed their bunkers.
  • It tells the nutritionist whether the ration needs to be adjusted for decreased energy values in the silage.
  • It allows the nutritionist to stand back a safe distance from the face of the bunker in order to get a reading.

Granted, it is too late to do anything about it if the bunker was not packed properly and heat losses are occurring. But it does provide ongoing feedback to the client, and also impresses upon the client that he needs to step up in other areas, such as face management, plastic management and the use of inoculants.

The infrared cameras are available from FLIR, with corporate offices in Portland, Ore. The Web site is and the phone number is (800) 464-6372.

FLIR sells a number of different cameras ranging from $2,000 all the way to $100,000-plus. A FLIR representative emphasized that many of the cameras cost less than $10,000.