Be Safe When Sampling Bunkers and Silage Piles

Don't forget about safety when sampling silage. ( University of Wisconsin-Madison )

Now that corn silage is mostly complete, nutritionists are anxious to find out what kind of feed quality they will be working with this year.

But the first job in feed sampling is safety, says Ron Kuber, president of Conner Agriscience, Clovis, Calif.

“As a nutritionist, you are one of the most likely people to walk up to the face of a client's silage pile than any other person,” he says. “You want to see, feel, smell, and sample the silage you're working with.

“We get that. It's just so tempting, so much easier to park the truck next to the pile, hop out, grab what you need and move on. Please don't.”

The risk of a silage face collapse is very real. So no matter how much of a rush you are in, always take the time to have another person with you. Both of you should wear a safety vest.

To take a feed sample:

  • Knock down a sample all across the face with unloading equipment.
  • Put it in a mound away from the pile or bunker. From there you can measure heat, kernel processing, chop length, and whatever else you are looking for.
  • Take a handful from several sites and mix together for a true sample of what's going to be fed.

“It's never okay approach the face. It's brave to stay three times the height away from it. It's a rule that is never broken by anyone in our organization. Make it a rule in yours too,” says Kuber.