Sunday, August 15, 2010

Corn Silage




August brings hot and dry conditions every year but these last two weeks have gone above and beyond creating discomfort for my family and our cows. This extreme heat has speeded up our harvest schedule for cutting the corn that is used to make corn silage to feed our dairy cows. Corn silage is fed through the entire year and it is very important to harvest at the right time for quality and yield. Harvesting our corn crop involves the entire family plus employees. The self propelled John Deere silage cutter cuts the corn,leaves, and part of the stalk and blows it into the bed of a large dump truck. The truck will deliver and dump the corn into one of the large pit silos located just below the dairy barn where a tractor is used to pack it into the silo. After all the corn is cut and stored in the silo, it will be covered with plastic and allowed to ferment for 14-21 days before feeding it as corn silage. Fermentation breaks down the sugars in the corn making it an excellent source of energy in the cow's diet. A sample of the silage will be taken for a quality analysis report which will be used by our dairy nutritionist to formulate the entire diet for our dairy herd. When corn silage is fermenting, it takes on a particular smell. Many folks complain about its distinct odor but I think about how good it smelled the first year I experienced it in December 1983 riding in the big red International tractor on my second date with the dairy farmer. I don't know if it was because it was forty degrees cooler in December or I was in love but I still love the farmer and the smell of corn silage!

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