The "extra" step of covering and sealing freshly chopped forage can save producers money, nutrients and dry matter (DM) and improves the hygienic quality of the feed, so less digestive upsets and health issues. When producers add up the savings, it may not seem like an extra step at all!
Here are the five keys to successfully covering your silage to get the maximum savings:
1) Cover as soon as possible after filing. This helps create the anaerobic environment required for the silage.
2) Don"t skimp on plastic thickness or quality. The extra expense will be returned several times over in improved DM recovery and silage quality. Use plastic that is at least five millimeters thick and dual layer — black inner and white outer — to resist deterioration. Also consider using plastic film with an increased oxygen barrier.
3) Cover the entire slope in front of the bunker or around the drive-over pile with plastic when filling is complete to help prevent spoilage in these harder to pack areas.
4) Be sure there is sufficient weight along the edges to keep the plastic in place and prevent air infiltration. Overlap the seams of two different sheets of plastic by at least four feet. Weight down the entire cover, e.g. with tires or gravel bags.
5) Inspect covers on a regular basis for tears or damage and repair immediately.
Effectively covering and sealing silage helps prevent oxygen ingress, which is the No. 1 enemy of high-quality silage.