June 9, 2014

FARM LIFE: CORN SILAGE

Majority of my posts this week if you haven't already noticed will be centered around the dairy farm. June is National Dairy Month and what better way to celebrate then showing you what goes on behind the scenes of your grocery store's milk case. 

The magnitude of things going on in any given day on a working farm is endless, so I am breaking it down into smaller posts. If you didn't see my post from yesterday, it had to do with our calves, here's the link. 

My post today has to do with feed. Feed is probably the most important thing on a dairy. It controls how much milk you produce, it gives your animals energy, and it controls their overall body condition. Just like humans we need to eat a certain amount and type of food if you're nursing and wanting to keep your energy up. You can't live off of sweets and junk food when you are nursing or you will have no energy to produce milk and then your body starts to get malnourished. Cows have to digest a certain amount of forage, protein, grain, minerals and vitamins everyday to be healthy and produce good quality milk.


Right now my Husband, Brother, and his farm crew are chopping fields of corn in the desert for the dairy. My Husband goes down there a couple times a week, but it has mainly been my brother and his crew. They are putting up corn silage for the dairy. The process of corn silage is a specific kind of tractor cuts the stalks down and chops it up into small pieces. Then it is hauled to a pile where it is compressed and formed into a mound by a dozer. Once they are all done cutting the fields, the pile of chopped corn with be covered in plastic to ferment. Once the corn has fermented it is considered corn silage. 

One of the main reasons farmers feed corn silage to their animals is it can replace higher costing feeds. That is HUGE on a working farm! You always want to keep your feed costs lower than what you are getting paid for the milk, thus you make money...

Now on to some pictures to fully understand what I am talking about...

Note: All Pictures were taken with a camera phone...I think they turned out great!


Our equipment! You need a chopper to chop the corn down and a walking-floor to haul all your feed to the pile. Since our walking floors can't go into these fields, we use a tractor with a dump trailer attached to place the feed in the walking floor.


Here is an action shot of the corn chop being blown into the trailer by our chopper.


This is the ultimate form of teamwork...

 
You can see how small the corn gets chopped into in this picture.


This is a view from the back side. 

If you are wondering why the corn isn't as tall as you imagined, it's because this is food grade corn. The picking machines came through and took the top half and we took the bottom half to feed to our cows.

This is the ultimate form of UPCYCLING!

 
Another shot of the corn being blown into the trailer.


This was taken from on top of the silage pile.


Here is a side profile of the silage pile. 

After they are all done chopping corn it will be covered with a think plastic referred to as ag-bag and old tires with be placed on top of that to hold it down.

Hard work and dedication goes into chopping corn. 

It's the ultimate form of a group effort and team work.  

Team work makes the dream work...

I hope this helped you get a better picture of one component that goes into feeding cows.

Happy National Dairy Month!




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