With the maize season in full swing, you’re sure to know how important it is to ensure that your silage is stacked and stored correctly so you get the highest quality feed for livestock. It’s well known that a major factor in correct silage storage is having a tightly compacted stack which in turn increases the value of the feed. So, this prompts the question: how do you increase compaction in your silage stack?
In this blog, we look at ways to increase your silage stack compaction and why high compaction rates benefit your livestock.
How compaction works
There is a direct correlation between poor silage compaction and dry matter losses. By aiming to maximise compaction, you can remove more air from the silage. When compaction is not properly carried out, oxygen circulates freely within the stack, making it vulnerable to yeasts and moulds. This results in increased dry matter loss and degradation due to poor fermentation. The end product is hard for cattle to digest, and it may also be harmful to the animals due to increased ammonia and acid levels.
High density compaction ensures the elimination of unwanted air pockets in the stack. As the amount of oxygen circulating in the stack is low and air is unable to penetrate deep into the silage mass, successful anaerobic fermentation can take place.
Tighter compaction assures you a superior quality feed that is easily cut and more stable. It will also digest faster and provide a higher nutrition content for the livestock.
Tips to increase silage compaction
When you’re thinking about how to increase compaction, you should consider both the state of the dry matter being processed, and the equipment being used to do so. Here are 5 tips to help you increase silage compaction:
- Using heavier machinery benefits compaction by removing as much oxygen as possible from the maize silage in preparation for the packing process. If you’re looking at a heavier tractor, a narrow footprint is advantageous because it allows higher point loading when driving over the stack.
- Rolling equipment can also help you achieve consistently superior stack results. The Webbline Silapress has been proven to increase dry matter compaction by up to 40%.
- More time spent rolling stack is important. Consider reducing the delivery rate of trailers and trucks, or opt for a larger trailer. This will allow for higher volumes of forage to be delivered at the same time, and it will mean less movements per hour.
- Harvesting at 30-38% percent dry matter is ideal. If the crop is too wet or dry, it is difficult to achieve maximum compaction.
- A shorter chop is beneficial, and it’s important to remember to only spread forage to a maximum depth of 150mm. Using thin layers means you can compact each individual layer to a higher density.
All of these small steps, when finished with proper sealing, will reduce the amount of oxygen in the silage mass and allow for improved fermentation and a superior end product.
Refining your silage compaction methods benefits everyone involved in the supply chain. By harvesting at the right time and opting for heavier or more specialised machinery, you can compact your silage at a higher percentage density.
With a larger quantity of dry matter available as a result, increased compaction ensures your silage goes further. This means better value for money, and you can be satisfied that the cattle are getting the most out of their feed.