Planning for the Harvest
This summer I have had a lot of fun sharing how we grow the food our cows eat. Last week we wrapped up storing the bulk of our cow feed for the year. Before we even begin harvesting the feed we have planning to do.
We need to figure out where we will put all of that corn silage. A year’s worth of feed takes up a lot of space. On our farm we store our silage in bunkers. This is a huge open area where we can pile the corn silage up. It has 20-foot-high walls on either side to keep it contained.
When preparing for harvest we have to make sure where we are putting the feed is cleaned out and has enough open space for the amount we are bringing in. We also have to get the plastic ready to cover the pile. We cover the silage piles with plastic to keep air out which helps to ferment the corn silage and keeps it for a long time. We lay plastic on the bunker walls before the harvesting crew even shows up.
Once everything is ready the crew moves in! The chopper cuts the corn plant off at the base, chops it into small pieces and spits the silage into a semi-trailer. The semis then truck the silage to our designated spot and they dump it.
As you can see in the picture we had two big tractors doing what we call packing the pile. These tractors are really heavy. They are pushing the feed up onto the pile so we can efficiently use the space we have. They are also using their weight to push the chopped feed together. When you ferment feed, air is a bad thing. It causes spoilage. We are trying to get all of the air possible out of the pile and packing those pieces tightly together is one of the ways we do it.
Once the feed is harvested and piled, we cover it with plastic, put oodles of tires on the pile to hold the plastic in place and we let it sit for a few months! When we take the corn silage out of the pile and add it to the cow’s feed, it is delicious and healthy for the cows to eat.