Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Corn Silage 2010

Well I know it's been a long time since I blogged, but I am hoping now that a majority of our forage harvesting for the year I will have more time to devote to this blog.  Since we were busy chopping corn silage last week, taking about 4.5 days to chop over 2800 tons of corn silage for our cows from about 135 acres of corn, I thought I would do a short/long/informative recap of the week's events.

A little information about corn silage first though.  We strive to feed our cows a high forage diet (a diet composed mainly of fiber/forage instead of grain, which promotes excellent rumen & cow health).  The vast majority of our diet's forage comes from corn silage.  We like corn silage because it not only provides valuable fiber material for our cows but also highly available energy in the form of corn grain.  The corn grain in corn silage has been processed (crushed so that rumen bacteria can digest the corn starch to make proteins to feed the cow) and the corn is also wet-also making it more digestible.  Our cows eat over 100 pounds of feed each day, and over 50 pounds of that is corn silage.  As such a large portion of our cows' daily diets, corn silage quality becomes very critical. 

Excellent cow health on our farm starts with excellent nutrition.  We harvest our corn at 65-69% moisture.  A normal corn plant is about 75% moisture, but after the corn grain is mature, with the onset of fall, corn plants begin to dry down and lose moisture.  With the warm temperatures this summer and excellent growing conditions, we had an earlier than expected harvest of silage.  We also had to work faster than expected to beat the weather.  With temperatures in the 90's and strong southerly winds, the clock was ticking.  Usually corn will lose about .5% of moisture each day in normal temperatures, but with the increased temperatures we were losing more moisture than expected.  We pushed even harder to finish the harvest, and thanks to an awesome friend of the family (who donated his time and his tractor) and an awesome brother in law...we were able to reach our goals.  On Sunday night/Monday morning we ran the last load of corn silage into the bag, celebrated with a beer and "hit the hay".  Monday we sealed silage bags, and boy did they smell amazing!  I LOVE the smell of freshly fermenting corn silage.  It's comforting to know we have most of our feed for our cows for the upcoming year in bags.   We have been truly blessed!  Please feel free to check out the pictures below from the week's events as well as a new video I added to YouTube.

Rows of delicious feed for our cows this coming year.

Chopping corn silage in "our" corn field.

Filling the bagger (the machine with packs the corn silage into the long silage bags).

My brother in law and our friend showing off, as they are side winding corn silage into the 2nd silage box so that the chopper doesn't have to stop chopping.

Thanks to the dry and warm weather we had a fair amount of dust on our field roads coming into the farm.

Tall rows of corn, green and full of nutrients for our cows!

Last load of the night!  It was a hard one to get in, thanks to some break downs, but we got it done!

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I write this blog to share my passion for my cows and farming, please be respectful of that. I reserve the right to delete those comments which portray hate, call names, and are out right disrespectful. If you have an honest question, I will respond, to explain what we do on our farm, why we do it and how we do it. Please read with an open mind. My time to blog is short, as most of our days are spent caring for our beloved cows. Thank you!