Monday, October 7, 2013

Choppin' Silage

So usually my excuse for not getting a new post up is because I haven't had time to go through the pictures....

Well that wasn't the case here, I had these photos picked out and up-loaded on a post here for about a month now, I just never took the time to finish the post....grrrr

So about 4 weeks 5 weeks ago now, we harvested our first little bit of corn, but not how we usually do. We chopped this corn for silage that we feed to our calves.

It's not economical for most farmers to own their own silage chopping machine and trucks to haul it away with so this is something that we along with other farmers in the area hire done.

The guys that we have do our chopping are from northern Kansas but they travel from Texas to at least Nebraska....they may make it to the Dakota's but I can't remember. 

The way it works is you have this machine that is known as a chopper and it takes the whole corn plant...stalk, cob and all and chops it up into really small pieces.

Then it shoot's it into the silage truck.

And the haul it away to be bagged.  To keep from having much down time they have at least two trucks to each chopper.  This keeps the choppers moving and the truck drivers moving all the time.

When they are starting out they have the auger pointed strait back and shoot it into the trucks that way.

It's really just kinda luck if they actually get any into the truck when they do this.

Here's what the front of the machine looks like....those teeth are really mean looking.

So you take ears that look like this along with the corn stalks and leaves....pretty much every part of the plant above about 6 inches off the ground and it is chopped up.....

and ends up looking like this when it's done.

These two boys could ride with these guys all day!

And since they go so fast Caleb actually did stay with them so he could show them where they needed to go....Chester had to go home and eat dinner and take a nap other wise he would have stayed there too!

I don't remember what I was doing to say about this weed patch, but this is a low area in the field where the down pour of rains in the spring drowned out the corn seed and it wasn't able to germinate and grow so instead of corn we go this nasty looking mess.

Chester sat and did some watching of the choppers with Papa for a while, before he got to load up and ride.

Once the silage has been bagged, then it is sealed up to keep out any more oxygen from getting in and left alone for about a month to ensile....which means it ferments and becomes all yummy and delicious (at least to the cattle and that's all that matters!) 

The key to a good ensile is making sure no oxygen can get into the bag cause if it does then it will spoil and rot you silage. Also when you are having you corn (or whatever you are turning into silage) chopped you have to make sure it's not too wet or to dry cause neither of those are good for the silage making process either. 

There is very much a science to making silage.

This is what the bags of silage look like when they are done. 

They make fun slides. 

Every once in a while you will find this guy having fun too!

This is what it looks like when it has been fully ensiled and is ready to feed to the cattle.

It usually takes about a week for the calves to get use to eating it, but once they do the love it and gobble it up very quickly.

Silage makes a great feed and it's a way to get some good out of corn that wasn't going to produce....but the better silage has big ears of corn chopped up in it too.

If you have any questions feel free to ask. I will try and do another post about feeding silage this winter when we are feeding it to our calves.




  1. NOW I know what those long white bags are in fields I see every so often. Like you said, it sounds like a LOT of science into making this product. How many acres of corn does it take to make enough silage to feed your cows all winter? INTERESTING STUFF!

    1. We only feed it for a shot time and it will depend on how long we choose to keep our calves after the are weaned as to how much we need, but Caleb's dad feed's silage all year and he chopped about 50 acres. My father-in-law has calves that he buys and sells all year long and feeds them daily. At any given time he will have 150-200 calves that he is feeding and that 50 acres of chopped silage should last him an entire year.

  2. Pretty much all the corn around here gets chopped. We live in the land of Dairies so the cows get fed all year. The next county over does grow some sweet corn, but most of ours is just feed corn. The choppers are fun to watch though!