Making Silage

Earlier this summer when Harland baled hay, we only got about half the number of bales we normally do. We would buy more bales, but the price right now is about double. So when the wheat harvest was over, Harland baled the wheat straw, and we’ll use that for cattle feed in addition to the hay. And a couple weeks ago, he cut about 10 acres of the field corn and turned it into silage, which we’ll also use to feed the cattle.

According to Wikipedia,

Silage is fermented, high-moisture fodder that can be fed to ruminants (cud-chewing animals such as cattle and sheep). It is fermented and stored in a process called ensiling or silaging, and is usually made from grass crops, including corn, sorghum or other cereals, using the entire green plant (not just the grain). Silage can be made from many field crops.

Silage is made either by placing cut green vegetation in a silo, by piling it in a large heap covered with plastic sheet, or by wrapping large bales in plastic film.

We opted for “piling it in a large heap“. The corn plants were cut off about a foot above the ground and chopped into bits by a self-propelled silage chopper (it looks like a little combine), and the chopped corn was then shot through a tube into a wagon pulled by the chopper. Full wagons were pulled out of the field by tractor up to the farm and dumped on the ground near our haybales. Then it was scooped into a large heap which was then compacted by driving repeatedly over it with the tractor.

Here’s Harland “piling it in a large heap”:

This is also a source of farm accidents (and widows).

We hired Wendell and his silage chopper and wagons. Stuart(a neighbor), Gerald(Harland’s brother), and Andrew(Harland’s nephew) all came over to help, which was wonderful. They started after lunch and didn’t finish until early evening.

The high that day was 106, which made a dusty dirty job even more miserable.

Time for a break:

L to R: Stuart, Gerald, and Harland

Here a video I took:



A few days later, he covered the pile with a large sheet of plastic to protect it from the elements. This winter, he’ll dig into the pile to feed the cattle. They love silage, so on some cold day this winter, they will enjoy silage that was made on one of the hottest days this summer.