We have been preeeetty busy around here. We harvested our 4th crop of haylage the first week of September and soon after that we began corn silage harvest. Which is probably why you haven’t heard from me in awhile.
Well, that and my addiction to reality TV…I just cannot get enough of those housewives and the crazy things the say!
If you cruise by our farm or just about any other dairy farm, you might notice big piles with white plastic and A LOT of tires. You are like, “What is with all the freakin’ tires?!”. Well, it is your lucky day because I’m going to tell you all about those dang tires!
On our farm, we grow and harvest hay and corn to feed our cattle. But it is not dry hay or shelled corn we are feeding the cattle, what we do is a little different.
I know….this isn’t a real exciting topic. Hay! Stay with me, I will try to add some corny jokes.
- Haylage is produced by chopping hay at a high moisture level and sealing it air tight to allow fermentation to occur.
- Corn silage is produced by chopping the entire stalk of corn and sealing it air tight to allow fermentation to occur.
The harvest process is pretty similar for both haylage and corn silage. Both plants are chopped and blown into dump-like trucks or wagons and then transported to the farm’s feed storage area. It takes quite a few trucks to keep up with the chopper, so there is usually a bit more traffic around our farm during harvest.
During corn silage harvest, it is important to watch out for “stalkers”.
When the feedstuff gets to the farm, the truck driver dumps the load in a pile and then returns to the field for the next load. We use three, large tractors to sculpt and pack the feed into a pretty, little pile.
Actually, it’s not little at all. It ends up being a pretty BIG pile.
It is important to pack the silage to prevent mold and spoilage.
It is long, tedious work, but we want the best for Bessie, so we keep on packin’!
Once we are all done and the pile is nicely packed, the plastic and tires come into play. We cover the finished pile with a sheet of white plastic with an oxygen barrier and then tires, side-by-side, on the entire surface. In the absence of oxygen, the feed ferments and mold growth is kept to a minimum. A tight seal is key to quality feed!
Years past, dairy farmers stored their haylage and corn silage in upright silos (vertical storage). Now, a majority of dairy feed is stored in drive-over feed piles, bunker silos or plastic bags (horizontal storage). The learning curve of experience has taught us that in order to maintain feed quality during storage, we need weight (tires) on the entire plastic-covered surface of a feed pile.
If you are ever looking for a good workout, come hang out with me when it is time to cover the pile. I’m basically a tire-throwin’ machine.
A concern is that tires that hold water are a perfect breeding habitat for some species of mosquitoes. We manage our tires to eliminate water collection in the tires, thereby interrupting mosquito egg and larva development into adult mosquitoes.
All of our tires have a sidewall removed, so when we position them on a feed pile, they don’t hold water for mosquitoes to breed in. When the tires pulled off the piles at feeding, they are stacked open side wall down, to prevent them from holding water.
We finished covering the corn silage pile Tuesday evening and I am pretty jazzed that my tire throwin’ days are over for the year. It is always a good feeling when the job is complete and you can relax!
Drinks taste best when you are sweaty, dirty and attracting flies.
What’s that? We are going to start making 5th crop haylage tomorrow?
Alright, let me go get my work gloves……