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Small-scale silage your yard can be your field. (Feeds & feeding).

Is it possible to make Silage in large plastic garbage bags? I see farmers with these long plastic bags that they are putting silage in, so it seems we should be able to do this on a small scale. Also, can we use the grass that is cut out of the yard and does it need to have grain in it?

Yes, you can bag yard clippings and use it as winter silage.

First, some terminology: Silage is grasses and other forages, such as alfalfa, put up at a high moisture content. Normally it is direct cut and put into an airtight storage quickly. Haylage can be the same source put up after it has been allowed to wilt to a lower moisture level. Hay can be the same source, just put up very dry.

Obtain the best-quality plastic garbage bags available. Don't skimp here as the bags, once opened, can be turned inside out and washed off for reuse. Next punch or drill some holes in the bottom of a garbage can and put in two bags, one inside the other. The holes are to prevent a vacuum lock between the bags and the can.

If you want to go for silage, cut and bag early in the morning when there is a high moisture content. For haylage, cut once the sun has dried out the grasses to where it is neither moist nor dry. Here, if you have a bagging mower, you can likely dump the bag contents directly into the bags in the garbage can.

An alternative is to dump the bag contents and spread it out some so the contents wilt.

As each mower bag is put into the garbage can, step into the can and pack the contents down as much as possible. If you want to include grain, such as whole kernel corn, it can be added between layers. It will help absorb excess moisture, making the corn more digestible, plus helping to increase the overall protein content.

When the bag is full to the point it can still be handled, start with the inner bag. Twist the neck, fold it over and then tie securely. Then do the same with the outer bag. Turn the can over to dump out the contents. Store out of sunlight. Stacked in a pile is fine.

Feed the silage slowly at first to allow livestock to become accustomed to it.

You can experiment with what moisture level to put it up at.

If you want to try making grass clippings into hay, in a well-ventilated building put down' wood pallets for flooring, allow the clippings to wilt somewhat to where it still has a slight green color and spread it out in layers on the pile. Try not to compact it. Good air flow through the pile is essential to prevent rot or mildew.

Do not do this with any grasses which have been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides. I also recommend avoiding any from around fruit trees which have been sprayed.
-- Ken Scharabok


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Michael Ian Anderson (Member): Michael Anderson 9/7/2010 7:50 AM
Hi, I have read your article with great interest. I have a small herd of Dexter cattle that are about half the size of dairy cattle. The last two years have been very expensive for buying fodder crops because in England we have suffered unusual periods of drought and crops are about one third down resulting in higher prices. Every year I feed my Dexters all sorts of additional feed. Such as bushes that I have cut down and other forage that I see that they like. I have a large amount of lawn that I cut and feed to them in the summer if I have to keep them in a holding area. They like it a great deal and will come rushing over when they hear the sound of the mower. I have often thought of ways to conserve the grass cuttings to feed them in the winter. U=It seems such a good source of feed and one that usually goes to a compost heap. So thanks for this suggestion. I will definitely try it. Can the grass have a high moisture content? I worry that it may rot in the bags. Or is this OK if I compress it by standing on the bags in the bin(can).It is autumn here now and there is a good flush of fresh grass growing. I hope to cut and bag this. Thanks again. Michael

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Article Details
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Author:Scharabok, Ken
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Mar 1, 2002
Words:576
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