Cover the pile. Cover the silage pile with plastic.
The time and money spent on chopping silage for feed does not go unnoticed. But if the pile isn’t covered, the loss of feed will be noticeable. Even after the silage is packed correctly, air and water can penetrate the outer layers and severely damage the quality and quantity of silage. Additionally, molds, mycotoxins, and fungi have a prime place to grow in uncovered silage.
Many studies at Kansas State University have reported a minimum three percent loss in dry matter from the top three feet of silage in uncovered silage bunkers compared to covered. Much like the last span of a pivot irrigates a large percentage of a field, the outer portion of a silage pile makes up a large portion of the pile. Covering with plastic will give about an 8:1 return on investment for the producer.
Silage should be covered as soon as possible with plastic. The standard plastic is still the black and white sided 6mil sheeting. However, some producers have also gone with an additional layer of oxygen barrier plastic to reduce dry matter loss and spoilage even further. Some will also use one sheet that is thicker or made of different material and is more of an oxygen barrier than the standard plastic. Make sure the edges are sealed and the top has plenty of weight on it. Usually tires cut in half are the most common.
An 8:1 return on investment isn’t easy to find these days, but it is right here with covering silage with plastic. Covering isn’t the easiest job, but returning the favor with neighbors or providing some incentive will make the job a whole lot easier.