The trend towards the clean silo

Updated on:
December 11, 2023
Silage removal technology
Karoline Glöckner


Focus on basic fodder production

Exploding concentrate and fertilizer prices are not only making feed management a challenge in agriculture. Overall resource planning on the farm seems more important than ever at the moment: Which inputs can I save, what can be replaced by alternatives? How can I get more out of my feed? And above all: What is the benefit of all this for my animals? Awareness in basic feed production has generally risen sharply in recent years. In addition to the current raw material price increases, this means increased attention to forage and silage quality in general. Particularly important here is the entire ensiling process from mowing to airtight covering in the bunker silo after a successful harvest. Those who think about the right cutting time, dry matter content or aerobic stability of the silage will ultimately have a clear advantage in the balance sheet and also in terms of animal health.

From the construction site to filling

Even in the planning phase of silo construction, there are a number of things to consider in terms of cleanliness: It is forbidden to contaminate surface waters or even groundwater, i.e. seepage juices should be able to run off into the slurry or septic tank in a controlled manner. In practice, this is usually solved by means of a cross gutter along the silo, which can be closed or opened via a pipe socket. So if a flat silo has just been freshly filled, fermentation juices ideally escape via this cross gutter and there is no danger of groundwater contamination. In addition, when silos are already open, it is important to make sure that the silo floor is well cleaned and the gate area is protected from rain. If you have a somewhat longer way to travel from the silo to the barn or feeding area, a removal technique with a completely closed bottom is generally recommended, as this prevents the feed from slipping off unintentionally. In the course of planning and constructing a new flat silo or even when changing over to fodder conservation, the system question of the removal technique should therefore be considered in any case.

THE PRE-SILAGE CHECK: Before the silage season, a good cleaning of the empty silo is half the battle. Mouldy spots, feed residues or dirt have no place in the feed store during silo filling. In addition to a well-functioning harvesting, distribution and rolling technique, it also contributes to a smooth start to the season if all the necessary aids for covering are procured early enough: Edge and underlay film as well as the silage film itself and the film protection grid should be ready early enough so that a quick, airtight closure can be guaranteed after successful harvesting. Silo sacks for weighting down the edges are also an important part of the silo equipment.

Practical tip:

When building your silo, plan not only for sufficient space for the silo itself, but also for specific drainage possibilities for the seeping juices. In addition, the correct removal technique also plays an important role in the clean driving silo. The shear bucket therefore often offers a popular alternative to the classic shear grab.

What to consider when ensiling

Stable silage is an absolute prerequisite for feed intake. If you do everything right here, you offer the best conditions for high performance in the barn and healthy animals in general. True to the motto “you are what you eat”, the basic fodder situation is a decisive factor in livestock husbandry, as concentrate feeds can never replace good silage quality. Already at harvest time, the right technique and, above all, optimal timing often determine the nutritional value and quality of the forage. Here we have summarised a few key data for a successful silage harvest:

Choose the right harvest time: cutting too late often results in a high crude fibre content, the forage is then more difficult to compact. Especially in years with a lot of precipitation, possible harvest windows should therefore be used quickly and well.

The wilting degree of the forage also determines the quality of the ensiling process. If the dry matter content is higher than 40 % and the harvested forage is therefore too dry, compaction can become a real challenge. The time of cutting and the starting signal for silage filling should therefore be well coordinated.

Away from the meadow, into the silo: When bringing in the fodder, it is important to ensure that the distribution and compaction technology is well coordinated with the resulting recovery performance in order to avoid bottlenecks in the silage chain. Optimum compaction performance and thus impact power is possible when the individual layers are no higher than approx. 30 to 40 cm.

The air must go out. Once the harvest is over and the green fodder is well compacted in the silo, everything must now be sealed airtight to ensure rapid lactic acid fermentation and a reduction in the pH value. When buying silage film, a sufficient surcharge should be calculated for the film width, as an overhang at the edge is useful. It is also important that the film lies loosely and not too tightly on the silo surface – otherwise unwanted air pockets can form.

The cutting surface as the key to success

However, the right technology is required not only during ensiling itself, but also after opening the silo: cleanliness, working comfort and low feed losses are important keywords here, for example. To keep the silo floor clean after removal, farmers are increasingly using tools with closed bucket bottoms. This minimizes crumb losses on the transport route and thus also contamination of the groundwater with fermentation juices from the silo. When choosing the right attachment, feed rate and extraction system are closely linked. In any case, the aim should be to avoid reheating of the opened silage and ideally to achieve a smooth cut surface with the lowest pressure. This is the only way for the silage to retain its anaerobic stability. If you feed your animals with an automatic feeding system and take the silage for this purpose, you will usually also want to keep the silage block as intact as possible in order to prevent any feed losses due to mould growth.

Practical tip:

With an automatic feeding system, the condition of the silo block itself is also of great importance: The SILO CAT shear grab or the SILO BUCKET shear bucket deliver first-class results here thanks to the smooth surface of the basket. The hydraulic pusher can be ideally combined here as an accessory.

Goodbye shovel and broom?

The shear bucket is becoming more and more popular as a removal system – a strong trend is becoming noticeable here. One reason for this is that farmers are paying more attention to cleanliness in and around the bunker silo. Another advantage of the system is its versatility, as even fine fodder components can be transported without any problems and, moreover, no tool change is necessary. For example, thanks to the SILO BUCKET shear bucket, the mixing wagon can be filled in a practical, time-saving and forage-friendly manner. One argument for using the shear bucket in grass silage is the uniform feed along the entire gate width of the bunker silo with a shallower depth. In practice, this means that the cutting surface can be reached more often and mould formation due to reheating in the silo does not have a chance. The great added value of the SILO BUCKET in maize silage is above all the clean work it does: Combined with the smooth and easy cutting basket and the completely closed bucket bottom, the use of buckets and brooms is a thing of the past.

Practical tip:

If the grass silage is well compacted, only part of the soil can be pushed into the forage due to the shape of the shovel. However, this can be remedied by simply starting a second time at the same work step in order to get the silage cutting bucket completely full.

Clean removal with the SILO BUCKET

Due to its closed design, the shear bucket is perfectly suited for fine-grained forage such as maize silage or brewer’s grains. Thanks to the innovative, smooth but stable design of the device, unwanted air ingress during silo removal is prevented – with very low pressure and a smooth operation, the shear bucket from MAMMUT is guaranteed to convince all those who attach great importance to cleanliness and silage quality.

Best feed quality: No secondary fermentation on the bunker silo and no associated faulty fermentation.

Clean operation: Crumble losses are ideally avoided thanks to the closed bucket bottom – this saves additional clean-up work after feeding and keeps the bunker silo clean.

Smooth cutting: Fast and smooth cutting action thanks to optimum cutting radius and welded cutting edge. This puts little strain on the equipment.

Low resistance: The smooth bucket bottom makes it particularly easy to push the bucket into the silo. All reinforcements are located inside the bottom and the basket.

Long service life: A large main bearing and replaceable Hardox elements on the bottom protect the shear bucket from wear and ensure that the machine retains its value. The support frame is also completely powder-coated.

Only good forage brings high performance

It is not only the price explosions for concentrated feed that are causing a higher value of the basic feed – in general, there are more attempts again to keep the added value on one’s own farm as resource-optimised as possible. High milk yields with suitable quality standards can therefore only be achieved if the entire feed chain is taken into account and constantly improved. Many individual steps are required, from ensiling, compaction, removal and mixing to the refreshment of the feed in the barn. MAMMUT’s silage and feeding technology supports you in this process and thus increases your economic success in harmony with increased animal welfare thanks to the best forage quality and tasty feed.

Play Video

Shear bucket in the TOP AGRAR Test

In issue 02 / 2022, the trade magazine “Top Agrar Österreich” took a closer look at the MAMMUT silage cutting bucket in a practical test. The device has achieved first-class results that are worth seeing. You can download the complete report here.

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