Top tips to reduce the spoilage of your silage

Silage waste or spoilage is a problem on many farms. Over the winter season, waste can build up considerably. A few simple measures have been put in place on UCD’s Lyons Research Farm to improve silage quality and to avoid spoilage.

Silage making might be a few months away, but now might be the time to have a look at these pictures to compare your own silage and methods of sealing the pit.

Silage covers

Silage pits on the UCD farm have been covered in different ways in order to find the best method of preventing spoilage. The walls of the pits are always covered with plastic. The sides and the top of the pit are also fully covered in polythene.

This year, Silostop Wall Film was used on the sides of the pit instead of the regular polythene. Silostop Orange Oxygen Barrier Film was placed on top of the pit – over the regular polythene (main picture above). There is a minimal amount of spoilage on the pit. The picture below shows the oxygen barrier on the side of the pit and the low level of spoilage.

Silostop Wall Film on the side of the pit

The silage pit beside this pit is covered with regular black silage polythene – on the sides and on the top.

Farm manager Eddie Jordan estimates that the oxygen barrier cost €280 more than the regular silage pit covering that is used (sides and top with regular polythene), but the difference between the spoilage in the two pits is obvious.

The picture below shows regular plastic covering the sides of the pit. There is spoilage to the sides of this pit.

Regular silage plastic on the sides and the top of the pit

The picture below shows spoilage on the top of the pit, which has regular polythene and tyres. This can be compared to the pit in the main picture, which has an oxygen barrier on the sides and over the top sheet of plastic. It was also held down with mats rather than tyres.

Regular silage plastic on top of the pit

It should be noted that when AgriLand visited the pit with no oxygen barrier had been opened recently and spoilage should not be as we move from the opening of the pit.

Rubber mats

Rubber mats were then placed on top of the pit with the oxygen barrier. The rubber mats, while providing a solid weight on top of the plastic, also prevent crow damage.

Tyres were also used to keep the plastic down. Eddie stated that there is a problem with crows where tyres are used to cover the pit. The mats prevent the plastic from being damaged by animals.

Feeding passage

The concrete outside of the feed barrier is painted with an epoxy (two pack) paint. This leaves a smooth surface, which is easily cleaned. It prevents spoilage of feed on the ground, but also protects the concrete underneath the silage being offered to the animals.

An epoxy (two pack) paint has been applied to the concrete alongside the feeding barrier