On the vast majority of farms, the silage pit has now been opened and the feeding of cows for the winter months has begun.

2022 was a challenging year for fodder supplies. Many farms were late harvesting and then had to feed earlier than expected.

In some cases, this has put pressure on fodder supplies that farmers worked hard to obtain.

Mouldy silage

On most silage pits there will be some waste in the form of mouldy silage. This should be removed so that it is not fed to livestock.

Listeriosis is one disease that can affect cattle from eating mouldy silage and it is most commonly seen in youngstock.

Listeriosis can cause abortions, eye infections and brain disease. It is caused by the Listeria monocytogenes and it is a zoonotic disease meaning it can be passed from animals to human and vice versa.

An issue with listeria in the herd could have a major financial impact on the farm.

Silage pit

There will always be a certain amount of rejected, or waste silage on farms.

To ensure that this is kept to a minimum it is important that farmers ensure they are not aiding in the production of waste silage.

If you have not already done so, you should sharpen your shear grab, to keep the face of the pit tidy and ensure a clean cut.

A blunt shear grab will leave an uneven face which will allow increased air flow through the pit and accelerate spoilage.

It is also important that you do not expose more silage than your stock can consume within a week.

Leaving silage exposed for a longer period of time will increase the amount of waste and rejected silage.


Working on a silage pit has a certain level of risk. You are working at a height firstly, and secondly the plastic is often wet and slippery.

Removing tyres and the plastic sheeting regularly is required, but safety is of the utmost importance when this is happening.

Ideally, this job should only be completed when there is two people on the farm.

Not only will this make the job easier, but it will also make it safer, so if something was to happen the alarm could be raised.

Over the winter the black sheet can become wet and slippy which could lead to an accident. A fall from height could cause a serious injury, so caution is advised.