Chopping Corn Silage for Cattle Feed

This is our new bunker silo a little over half full of corn silage.

Around the beginning of September, the corn is nearly mature and has the peak ratio of nutrients and moisture content to be harvested as silage.  Silage is any form of crops that are harvested and fermented for livestock feed.  Silage can be made from hay, corn, rye, etc.  It is an ideal feed for cattle because it contains the entire corn plant, not just the grain.

There has been a lot of rumbling in the foodie world about grass-fed and grain-fed livestock.  Many would have the consumer believe that cattle in feedlots are fed strictly grain and nothing else.  This is not true.   Cattle must be introduced to grain slowly.  Cattle need forage to keep their rumens (or stomachs) working properly.  Even if a calf is getting all grain, it’s rumen will adapt and digest the grain as forage.  This is an inefficient way to use corn, as the energy value of the corn is wasted, and there are cheaper alternatives to feed cattle.  None of our cattle are ever on a 100% grain diet.  I hope I didn’t lose anyone there.  I could go on and on about cattle nutrition, and I probably will as this blog continues.

The bunker silo has four different bays, we are filling two of them with corn silage. The big tractor pushes the silage up into the bunker, and drives on top of it to pack it in. Packing the silage down helps to preserve it.

Corn silage can be stored in a few different ways such as upright silos, bunker silos, or silage bags. All are designed to preserve the feed at peak nutritional levels over the next year.  We use all three storage methods on our farm and each has it’s advantages and disadvantages.  Here are a couple links to videos of us filling our new bunker silo at the new hoop barn site.  If you have little boys who like to watch tractors, they will love these quick clips (ok, big boys will too)!

The tractor is unloading a chopper box of corn silage here in front of the bunker silo bays.

Corn silage is harvested (also referred to as “chopped”) by our chopper.  It is a big, expensive piece of equipment that cuts, collects, then chops the corn plants into little pieces.  Think M & M sized pieces.  After chopping the corn up, it blows the little cattle M & Ms into a chopper box being pulled behind it.  (See this post about chopping hay to refresh your memory as to what a chopper box is and does). Once full, the chopper box is then emptied in the same fashion as if we were chopping hay…so, check that post if you want to know more!

Hazel making sure Dad is doing a good job. She is so proud to be riding with Dad!

So we began chopping corn silage about 10 days ago, and finished up on Friday.  We have been blessed with great weather this year as well as only one day of machinery break downs.  When corn silage harvest is done, we will move on to earlage harvest…but, that is a whole other post!!

‘Til next time!

Liz

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by AKPENSUEN, Tersur on December 5, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    I like your work and I will like to know more about the nutritional value and importance of preserving corn as silage. I am from Nigeria. Thank you.

  2. Posted by Lyndi on February 11, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Hi. I’m in the Central Valley, heart of ag in California, can I email you personally? I cannot find your email on here. Thanks.

  3. Posted by John Nguyen on March 1, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Corn silage is valuable for cattle feed. I am now also export corn silage on jumbo bags to Japan and Korea for simi TMR.

    It’s very nice to talk to you.

    Thanks and Best regards,
    John Nguyen
    Director
    Mobile : + 84 906 960 968

    TRINH GIA CO., LTD
    259 Le Van Tho St, Ward 9, Go Vap Dist, HCM, VN
    Phone : + 84 8 3589 3837 – 84 8 6295 2407
    Fax: + 84 8 6295 2409
    Email : john@newlinks.vn
    Website: http://www.newlinks.vn

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