A successful dairy farm requires incredible investment — from cows and quota to crops, to land base and labour, the list of key inputs is huge.
One of the key pieces that drives a dairy operation forward is silage quality. On this episode of the The Sharp Edge, Maizex Seeds agronomist Greg Stewart visits custom silage harvester Kervin Horst from Trinal Farms for some tips on how to harvest and pack corn silage.
Stewart catches up with Horst on a busy October silage day as he’s custom harvesting and bunk packing at the te Vaarwerk family dairy farm at Tiverton, Ont. Horst has been doing custom silage for 10 years and says feed quality depends heavily on how the bunk is built and packed.
A key to Horst’s ability to effectively manage the bunk is a 9-wheel Spanjer impact silage packer. Tractor wheels still play an important role in putting down pressure on the corn silage, but the Spanjer adds about five tonnes to the unit, delivers more pressure to the surface of the bunk and also enhances levelling. Tires are also key, with inflation pressure set at around 30 lb. (Story continues after the video.)
At the te Vaarwerk farm, silage moisture is running at 60 percent. As silage gets drier, Horst says the work intensifies and he will often add another packing tractor. Horst works to keep the piles of silage at the sides of the bunk higher to avoid falling into the wall or hitting plastic liners. Another focus when packing is to keeping the slice as thin as possible.
Stewart makes note of Horst and his team’s attention to detail as they chop, deliver the silage to the pit and pack the feed.
“There’s a dairy farmer who’s keen on the quality of the silage and how well it feeds his dairy cows. There’s also a nutritionist assessing the silage,” says Stewart noting that many producers also do bunk audits to assess density and fermentation across the face of the bunk. “If you are going to be a sharp dairy farmer, the bunk really is key to having high-quality feed.”