What a new farmer needs to know about silage

What does a new farmer needs to know about silage?

Here I talk with Joe Dickenson from Dickenson Farms in Oilsprings, On about how he uses silage on his farm and what new farmers need to know.

Silage is something I don’t know much about, so I thought I would talk to someone who works with it on a regular basis.

Here are the questions that I ask him. 

  1. What is Silage?
  2. How do you make silage?
  3. What are the different types of silage?  What can we grow in ontario?
  4. What type of silage do you use? Why?
  5. How can you store silage? What are the advantage and disadvantages of different storage types?
  6. What types of animals need silage?
  7. How do you use silage on your farm?
  8. Is there anything I didn’t ask you about silage that new farmers would need to know?

Key highlights

  • Silage is a full crop that is chopped up green and stored in a oxygen limiting environment. It’s more moist and fermented.
  • Balage usually baled dryer than haylage and stored in bales. For baleage you are putting it into bales.
  • Haylage is wetter than balage.
  • First cut hay is usually a larger volume, so it is harder to get it all dry to put it into bales.  So if you’re pinched for time, you have a couple options after you cut your hay.
    • Bale the hay wet.
    • Make haylage out of your first cut.
  • Dry hay transports easier than wet hay.
  • Wrapped bales can last upwards of two years. However, once you open the wrapped bale it’s ideal to have it eaten by the animals in three days or less.
  • You use a forage harvester to chop up corn or sorghum into fine pieces. These fine pieces are put into a trailer and then put into a silo (either a vertical silo or a bunker type silo).
  • Haylage is a form of silage.
  • Haylage is chopped up legume e.g. alfalpha
  • Alfalpha is a good choice to have in your hay mix.
  • Haylage is usually a combination of alfapha, treefoil and fescu grass.
  • Some varieties of hay need to come off the field within 5 days.
  • Sorghum can be used as a nurse crop. That means that you would plant it at the same time as your hay seed. The sorghum grows faster than the hayseed so then you can cut the sorghum thus allowing the hay to grow.
  • You can store silage either in a vertical or horizontal silo as long as it is in an oxygen limiting environment.
  • You need to make sure you feed the appropriate amount of feed to your animals.
  • You use a blower to put your silage into the silo.
  • Beef cows and dairy cows don’t necessarily need silage.  However, by using silage you can increase your production of milk in dairy cows. Silage helps beef cows develop stronger.
  • Silage can speed up the feeding process.
  • Not all silage is created equal. Think of silage as wine, so each growing season is different.
  • It’s a good idea to diversify your feed options with your livestock.

Haylage vs Baleage vs Silage

Haylage is wetter than baleage. So the moisture level in haylage is higher than baleage.

Baleage is baled dryer than haylage.

You normally put baleage into wrapped hay bales.

Haylage tends to be chopped up and put into a silo.

Let me put it into moisture perspective.

  • Baleage runs about 30% moisture
  • Haylage runs about 50% moisture.
  • Corn Silage runs about 60% moisture

Protein values:

  • Haylage runs about 20% protein.
  • Silage runs about 8.5% protein.

Pictures from Joe’s farm

Final thoughts

Is there anything that I missed that you might be interested in?

Leave me a comment below.

Buying farmland: key factors you should know before buying

A while ago I talked to a couple of people about buying farmland. In this post I am going to highlight the key points from that conversation. I thought it would be a great way to get the gist of the conversation for those who don’t have the time to watch it all.

Consider this the Coles notes of the conversation.

Key points about buying farmland

  • Look for agricultural zoning property( A1 for Ontario, Canada.)
  • If you are looking for a house, you need to make sure you have access via the road.
  • Know what type of soil you have. Clay loam is considered the best type of soil to have.

  • Where’s the farm located. F

    armland is being bought because of location and not workability.

  • If farmland already has drain tileage, it will drive up the price.
  • Will the farmland drain on its own without tile drainage, so you won’t lose crops due to water.

  • Some areas have specific laws around adding tile drainage.

  • Tile drainage is worth looking into when you’re buying farmland

  • Is a property systematically tiled.

buying farmland

  • Make sure the farmland is not rocky.
  • You need to consider how much of the farmland considered workable land.

  • You need to consider about the heat units in your area.

  • Consider the growing season of the farmland your buying.

  • A lot of land is auctioned to get the best price.
  • Check out your well on the property to make sure it is drinkable water.
  • Have a farm business plan in place before you buy a farm.

  • Join a community to learn more about farming in your area.

  • Don’t get in over your head.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
  • You can take over an existing farm.
  • Read Farm Credit Canada reports.
  • Make sure the farmland is  in the proper tax bracket.

Final thoughts on buying farmland

Buying farmland is a very hard decision to make, and there are many things to consider. In the video we only discussed a few of the many aspects of buying farmland.

One of the main things that was talked about was having a plan before you start looking to buy. Also, recognize that farming isn’t easy work it takes a lot of dedication as well.

If you liked this this post, leave a comment with your key factors to look at when buying farmland.