“Best Management Practices” For Bagged Chopped Silage

It has been my observation that many livestock producers that once used tower silos have transitioned to using plastic tubes for fermenting forages. Employees at the Purdue University Animal Sciences Research and Education Center were harvesting alfalfa this week. This provided an opportunity to use several photographs I had archived and took during the recent harvest to highlight “Best Management Practices” for making bagged chopped silage.

 

Crimped alfalfa.

Crimped alfalfa.

 

1) When cutting the crop, use a mower-conditioner so it crimps the stem every third or fourth inch up and down the stem without bruising leaves.

 

Merging swaths into wind.

Merging swaths into wind.

2) Swaths can be merged together to form a windrow that meets the capacity of the forage chopper used. In this picture, a wheel rake is used to do the merging. Don’t rake so aggressively that excessive soil gets in the windrow.

 

Alfalfa being chopped.

Alfalfa being chopped.

3) Set the theoretical length of cut on the chopper near 3/8 inch for forage grasses and legumes. A
video segment of a chopper harvesting alfalfa in the windrow is seen below.

Squeeze test.

Squeeze test.

4) Take a chopped representative sample in your hand and squeeze very hard. If moisture oozes from the sample, the windrows need to dry more.

Moisture tester.

Moisture tester.

5) Pictured is a small, forced-air oven used to determine if a representative chopped sample is in the target range of 65 percent moisture (35 percent dry matter).

Alfalfa being unloaded.

Alfalfa being unloaded.

6) The chopped forage is unloaded form the unloading wagon into the small elevator that takes it to the packing component of the bagging implement. See the video clips below.

 

 

Nick Minton by chopped bag silage.

Nick Minton by chopped bag silage.

 

Packed alfalfa in plastic tube.

Packed alfalfa in plastic tube.

8) Alfalfa silage made at a correct length of cut, well packed in silage tube bag, and allowed to ferment for a month.

 

Table Best Management Practices for harvest of bagged chopped silage.

Table Best Management Practices for harvest of bagged chopped silage.

9) Best Management Practices” details for bagged chopped silage from Purdue Forage Field Guide –ID-317. Preference is to have fermentation time of 28 days.

Making quality silage is a process that requires full attention from harvesting a quality crop, chopping at the right length at the correct moisture, and packing it quickly so fermentation can begin immediately.

Photos provide by Keith D. Johnson, Purdue Extension Forage Specialist

Share This Article
It is the policy of the Purdue University that all persons have equal opportunity and access to its educational programs, services, activities, and facilities without regard to race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or ancestry, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, disability or status as a veteran. Purdue is an Affirmative Action Institution. This material may be available in alternative formats. 1-888-EXT-INFO Disclaimer: Reference to products in this publication is not intended to be an endorsement to the exclusion of others which may have similar uses. Any person using products listed in this publication assumes full responsibility for their use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.
Pest&Crop newsletter - Department of Entomology Purdue University 901 W. State St. West Lafayette, IN 47907

© 2021 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Pest&Crop newsletter

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact Pest&Crop newsletter at luck@purdue.edu.