All you need to know about silage spreaders

Updated on:
December 6, 2023
Silage loading technology
Karoline Glöckner

Content

During silage harvesting, large quantities of fodder have to be placed in the silo within the shortest possible time and compacted without air entrapment. The biggest challenge is usually to be able to process the ever-increasing quantities of forage without having to fear a loss of silage quality. In this article you will learn everything about silage spreaders and the advantages they offer when ensiling. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the exact functioning of the silage spreader, the different types of drive and also the differences between rotary and drum silage distributors.

Function and purpose of a silage spreader

During consultation we often hear the question “What is the point of a silage distributor? – In short, we can answer that a silage spreader evenly distributes the green forage in the silo and thus optimally prepares the individual layers for the rolling process. The rotating movement of the drum – in conjunction with the throwing vanes mounted on it – creates a homogeneous spread pattern right up to the edge of the bunker silo. This ensures that the layer thickness is reduced and shaped as quickly as possible after the forage has been unloaded. If the grass is not distributed evenly in the bunker silo, isolated air pockets can form. These air pockets develop into so-called “faulty fermentation” in the silage stock after the fermentation process of the silage, so that the silage quality is massively impaired at this point and the forage heats up slightly at high temperatures.

The silage spreader is usually driven by the tractor’s power take-off, whereby a distinction is made here between front-mounted and rear-mounted. Nowadays, however, it is common in most cases to use the distributor at the front of the tractor in order to have a good view of the fodder to be distributed. So by operating the PTO clutch on the tractor, the front or rear PTO is activated and the drum of the silage spreader starts to rotate.

Another positive effect of a silage spreader is the time saved during ensiling: The biggest bottleneck in harvesting often occurs in the bunker silo, so that the loader wagon sometimes has to wait until the roller vehicle has finished its work. Due to the resulting hectic pace, errors in distribution can easily occur or the silage is insufficiently compacted – a fatal error that only becomes noticeable after the silo has been opened due to reheating or even mould formation. With the help of a silage distributor, the grass is distributed quickly, stress is reduced and there is more time for rolling.

Different types of silage spreaders

Every silo and every forage has different requirements. Many factors – such as the composition of the forage, the width and length of the silo and the unloading height of the loader wagon – influence the way the silage is distributed. In order to meet these demands, MAMMUT offers a wide range of different series in distribution technology:

Drum silage spreader SILO FOX

The drum silage spreader SILO FOX is equipped with two horizontal drums that distribute the grass without gaps in the flat silo through the rotating movement. This system is ideal when distributing to the front and working in a narrow but long silo, for example. In addition, drum distributors bring advantages when it comes to unloading height – the largest model in the SILO FOX series has a diameter of 1.48 m including throwing buckets.

Drum silage distributors are perfect for high unloading volumes.

Rotary silage spreader SILO TWIST

However, if you prefer to distribute the harvested fodder across the width, the SILO TWIST rotor silage spreader is a good choice. The rotary silage distributors perform well in rather wider silo systems and often manage the entire distribution process with the two rotors in just one or two passes. These units are also driven by the tractor’s power take-off shaft as standard, which means that the rotors start to turn outwards and the grass is distributed just as evenly in the silo. A plus point with the roundabout spreaders are the optional swath cloths, which also make it possible to work without silo walls without any problems.

The rotary silage spreaders work ideally and evenly across the width.

Silage spreader for front attachment

Another distinguishing feature is the connection of the distributor to the tractor: Here, a distinction is made between silage distributors for front mounting and those devices that are used exclusively in the rear of the tractor. Nowadays, however, the front-mounted version is chosen in most cases, as the overview of the distribution process is simply more convenient. With this solution, a reversing gearbox is installed in the machine, which enables it to be used in both the rear and front hydraulics of the tractor. The direction of rotation of the PTO shaft and the speed of rotation are adjusted for front-mounted silage spreaders by means of an included reduction gear.

Front-mounted silage spreader in combination with a silage roller

Useful accessories for your silage spreader

To ensure that you can adapt the silage spreader precisely to your application, it is advisable to use a wide range of accessories to adapt the device to the respective conditions. The number one accessory is the hydraulic swivelling device : The swivelling headstock allows the spreader to be swivelled 20 degrees to the left and right, usually with two hydraulic cylinders. When ensiling, this makes it easier to free the silage from the silo wall or to distribute it precisely and comfortably into every corner of the silo. To operate this function, two double-acting functions are required on the tractor. The fact is, this accessory definitely pays off! The ratchet clutch is particularly popular with contractors – with this accessory, the standard overload protection is replaced by an even more wear-resistant version. This is a great advantage if, for example, many different drivers work with the silage spreader. The wear on the ratchet clutch is simply less and the device can be used for many years without any worries, even with very heavy use. The road lighting system is also useful for inter-farm use of silage spreaders: if you opt for this additional option, the silage trailer is also safe on the road. You will find an overview and detailed descriptions of the various accessories of the SILO FOX series under the individual types:
Silo Fox CLASSIC

104 cm drum diameter
175 to 215 cm drum width

Silo Fox TITAN

115 cm drum diameter
205 to 245 cm drum width

Silo Fox GIGANT

128 cm drum diameter
230 to 280 cm drum width

Silo Fox KOLOSS

148 cm drum diameter
260 to 290 cm drum width

Advantages of a hydraulic drive for silage spreaders

Wheel loaders are becoming more and more important on farms – due to the articulated steering, the lifting power and the sometimes high operating weight, these carrier vehicles can be used well for silage removal or also for fodder distribution in the bunker silo. We are also noticing a strong trend in the use of our silage spreaders on wheel loaders : All silage spreaders from MAMMUT can be equipped with a hydraulic drive on request. This allows the machine to be operated with a wheel loader or telescopic loader, thus ensuring a wide range of applications during the harvesting season. In the dairy country par excellence – the Netherlands – silage spreaders have been used successfully on wheel loaders for many years, for example. Contractors and farmers in Holland appreciate the advantages of the hydraulic drive, as it is easier to combine the spreading and rolling of the unloaded fodder with a wheel loader. Due to the heavy weight of the large loaders, the compaction effect is well combined with the distribution process. The overview of the silo distributor from the cab of the wheel loader also speaks for itself: the drivers in Holland, for example, appreciate the good view of the distributor and can thus ensure even distribution throughout the entire bunker silo.

The hydraulic drive on silage spreaders is also advantageous if the tractor does not have a front PTO. This means that the implement can simply be driven with an oil engine and still be used in front-mounted mode.

Hydraulischer Antrieb beim Siloverteiler SILO FOX

Wheel loaders are becoming increasingly popular in agriculture. Many farmers appreciate the advantages of a silage spreader with hydraulic drive and use the machines together with their wheel loader when ensiling.

Picture: Landbouwpowers

MAMMUT Siloverteiler im Einsatz im Fahrsilo mit JCB Radlader

The overview and operability of the silage spreader is very practical from the wheel loader – from the cab you can see directly what is happening at the front during the spreading process.

Picture: Mammut Nederland

Hydraulischer Antrieb für Siloverteiler - Claas Torion mit SF 280 Gigant

Since a wheel loader usually has articulated steering, it is extremely manoeuvrable in the silo. This means uncomplicated handling during forage harvesting and quick exit from the silo when the next loader wagon arrives.

Picture: Landbouwpowers

Siloverteiler für Radlader - Abladen mit Ladewagen

Requirements of a silage spreader for wheel loaders

In order to be able to use your silage spreader on a wheel loader, there are a few points to consider. In this section we will give you an overview of the technical requirements of the spreader and the wheel loader so that the combination can be used sensibly for silage making. Although every model in the SILO FOX range can of course be adapted to wheel loaders, the Silo Fox GIGANT model has established itself as the most popular machine for wheel and telescopic loaders. Based on this size SF 280 GIGANT, the following key technical data should be considered:

Requirements silage spreaderRequirements wheel loader
Hydraulic drive (oil motor) with freewheelMinimum hydraulic output 120 l/min.
Hydraulic hoses for oil motor drive (included with hydraulic drive)Connection option for hydraulic hoses incl. matching couplings
Leakage oil hose (unpressurised return flow) with hydraulic driveConnection option for leakage oil hose (unpressurised return) on the wheel loader
Adapter for wheel loader attachment (e.g. three-point on Volvo)or: Provision of the adapter on the wheel loader side
Direct wheel loader attachment instead of three-point attachment (alternative to adapter)Specification of the exact wheel loader type for the creation of the individual attachment
Shock valve - if the distributor is to be operated in both directions of rotation. (with this valve the oil motor is secured in both directions of rotation and thus protected).-
Various accessories as desired (e.g. hydraulic swivel device, lighting, etc.)Various technical requirements for the respective accessories (e.g. 1 x double-acting control unit for swivel device, power connection for lighting, etc.)

Practical tips for the purchase of a silage spreader

Are you considering whether you should make your silage work easier with a distributor – but are not quite sure which size and equipment is right for you? No problem, here are a few exclusive practical tips from MAMMUT that can help you with your decision.

More about silage loading technology from Mammut
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