Dairy and Trade Bill

Make your own hay and silage

Silage is fermented, high-moisture stored fodder which can be fed to cattle, sheep and other cud-chewing animals.

What does a farmer require? To prepare your crop for silage, it must be chopped into small sizes. Silage chopping equipment varies from the motor operated by mounting to the tractor drawn models. One of the most important factors when making your choice of forage harvester will be the output expected. Your dealer will assist with the equipment set up and procedures to operate.


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Hay making-equipment used includes, mowers, rakes and balers. These are all implements that work behind tractors. The season is right and as the saying goes “make hay while the sun shines”. Bales of hay come in different sizes depending on the size of the baling chamber. When baling, the operator will set the bale density, which will determine the overall weight of the bale and thus amount of feed for the livestock.

Timing is key when making hay and silage as a delay in silage harvesting and over dried grass for baling can result in loss of nutrients. On the reverse, baling any fodder whilst it has a high moisture content is detrimental to the whole process and it can result in rotting, or a fire.

In recent years, we have seen introduction of mower conditioners which reduce any chance of high moisture content in hay. The equipment consists of the standard mower and a roller attachment that crashes the grass after cutting to bring out most of the sap within the stem.  When using a mower conditioner, the drying period before baling is drastically reduced.

Preventive maintenance schedules for these implements should include inspection and regular cleaning.  Set up a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule with inspection guidelines for operators and maintenance personnel to follow. Defective equipment can cause injury and loss of life.

Get your operators trained on operation, routine checks and more importantly, safety whilst operating the equipment. Your dealer, or supplier can help in this.

Any farmer can make silage as long as they have the green fodder and space on their farm.  This is aimed at providing high nutrient feed to the cattle during the dry season.


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