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Top tips to minimise losses during clamp filling and storage

Thanks to its high nutritional content, maize silage has a lot to offer as a forage option for both dairy and beef herds. However, maize can be a marginal crop if not harvested and ensiled correctly.

1 Make sure that the clamp has been thoroughly cleaned to avoid contamination from old silage or other contaminants

2 Ensure side sheets are used to line the clamp. Make sure that you leave sufficient film at the top to enable a good overlap - side sheets should overlap with the top sheet by at least 2m

3 Fill the silage clamp in even layers, with layers no more than 15cm deep. Thicker layers trap pockets of oxygen and cannot be consolidated evenly

4 Compact the crop as you go

5 The walls of the silage clamp are a particular challenge. It is best to fill the sides of the clamp to form a ramp running away from the wall so that the sides can be compacted properly - without the risk of damaging the side sheets with the tractor

6 If the clamp takes more than 1 day to fill:

  • Start at the back of the clamp
  • Rather than filling right to the front fill up to the maximum height at the back
  • Move forward with a ramp at an approximate angle of 30 degrees
  • The top sheet can be pulled back during filling as each section is completed allowing fermentation to begin sooner thus improving silage quality and reducing losses
  • This technique reduces the risks of over rolling the front section of the clamp which can cause poor quality silage
  • Never roll silage the next morning because carbon dioxide will have been produced overnight and the fermentation process will have begun. By rolling you will squeeze the carbon dioxide out and introduce more oxygen thus reducing fermentation, reducing sugar content and increasing losses
  • If filling again the next morning, fill the clamp with at least 30cm of forage and compact as you go

7 Seal the clamp immediately after filling, even if this is late at night. Pull the sheet over and place sufficient weight to hold the sheet down overnight.

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