Going the extra mile and doing the additional steps in covering and sealing freshly harvested forage can save producers a ton or resources such as nutrients, dry matter (DM), and of course, money. It improves the quality of the forage, promoting more vitamins and minerals for your livestock and fewer health issues and digestive upsets. When producers add up all the conveniences they get, they’ll soon realise that doing proper silage covering procedures was worth it in the end.
With that said, here are five keys to successful silage covering and getting the most out of your money:
1.) Cover Your Forage As Soon As Possible
After harvesting, you should cover your feed as soon as possible. Prolonged exposure to outdoor environments will alter its quality and make it prone to spoilage. By covering it immediately, you will create the anaerobic containment required for the silage to develop into excellent animal feed.
2.) Don’t Skimp On Plastic Quality Or Thickness
Never overlook the importance of having quality silage covers. The extra money that you spend on high-quality wraps will be returned several times over in improved dry matter recovery and overall silage quality. Use plastics that are at least five to six millimetres thick with dual layers – white outer and black inner – to resist silage deterioration from heat exposure. Also, consider using a plastic film with an increase in oxygen barrier.
3.) Make Sure There’s Enough Weight
When wrapping your bales, make sure there’s enough weight along the edges to keep the plastic in place and prevent any potential air penetration, which can alter the quality of your forage. Try overlapping the seams of two different sheets of plastic wrap by at least four to five feet. Weight down the entire cover with either gravel bags or tires. That way, it will hold in place and will not be affected by any outdoor condition.
4.) Cover The Entire Slope.
When a filling is complete, cover the whole slope in front of the bunker or around the pile with plastic wrap. It will help prevent any spoilage in these harder-to-pack areas. It will also be a way of preventing spoilage from spreading when it does occur.
5.) Inspect Your Covers
While most farmers would say not to open your silages during the storage phase, it’s essential to inspect your cover regularly. That way, you’ll be aware of any tears or damages that may occur, and you can repair them immediately.
So as you can see, getting the best forage is all about proper silage covering. It will dictate the overall quality of your feed, so make sure you’re aware of the right techniques such as the ones we mentioned in this article.