rocket mass heater dvd*
Permies likes critter care and the farmer likes Sustainable silage? permies
  Search | Permaculture Wiki | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies | World Domination!
Register / Login


permies » forums » critters » critter care
Bookmark "Sustainable silage?" Watch "Sustainable silage?" New topic
Author

Sustainable silage?

Emil Spoerri
pollinator

Joined: Oct 19, 2009
Posts: 415
    
    8
Silage requires chopping. A lot of chopping. Anyone know how one could make silage without gas power?
How did people make silage before the event of tractors?
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
My usual sources aren't helping much.

Wikipedia has:

In the early days of mechanized agriculture, stalks were cut and collected manually using a knife and horsedrawn wagon, and fed into a stationary machine called a "silo filler" that would chop the stalks and blow them up a narrow tube to the top of a tower silo.


1911 Encyclopedia Britannica doesn't have an entry. But lots of public domain books on agriculture are available on the web, written before silo fillers were invented.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
might rig an old reel mower to a small electric motor but you'd have to be carefull to sort out the twigs

one of them electric leaf shredders might cut stuff fine enuf
soethin like this http://www.composters.com/chipper-shredder.php

how much feed are we talking about?
Emil Spoerri
pollinator

Joined: Oct 19, 2009
Posts: 415
    
    8
Well, what if we wanted enough for one or two cows, or one cow and a few goats, pigs, sheep, poultry...
What would be the best way to store it?
I have heard of people using contractor bags, but then plastic bags and sustainability...

I am thinking about making a small tile silo...

It seems to me like the advantage of the great big silos is that you get to just let it all come out the bottom at a door? so you can open it and close it as you go through it.
I gather there is a problem with other containment methods in that the silage starts to go bad pretty fast, which isn't such a problem for cows and pigs, but definitely is for goats and sheep.

What about making really really good hay? I have heard that in France it is illegal to feed dairy cows silage if they are going to be used for cheese making, because of a disease cheese can get from silage!
So what they do is they cut the hay and take it into the barn wet and dry it with fans in the loft, without ever breaking or cutting the stems, only where they are cut with the mower... whole blades of grass make more nutritious feed.

Or what about making a bunch of silos that can be opened throughout the winter.

I have read information recommending mixing silage with things like sorgum, sunchoke tops, legumes, comfrey and even herbs like dill to aid in lactic fermentation...
I would probably add a fair amount of grain silage crops, around 20 or 30% of the crops could be oats or corn or millet or sorgum.

It seems to me like Silage is an ideal thing to have to supplement feeding of hay overwinter to dairy cows. Seems like the advantages over hay make up for the trouble!
Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
I'm hoping someone comes in on this

I reasearched silage when I bought my goats but became convinced that mold issues would make it dangerous if feeding less than half a dozen cattle or horses

I would love to see a practicle way to make it work on a smaller scale
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Discussions on Rob's "One Straw" blog made me aware of the existence of chaff cutters:

Wikipedia

I would agree that a tall silo makes a lot of sense, even if it has to be very narrow for the scale of operations you intend. I could imagine a design where the newest silage is pasteurized, and a culture is maintained within the silo.

It seems like strips of bamboo, preserved in water glass and held together with a lime-concrete mortar, then again sealed with water glass, would be a sensible construction material.
                        


Joined: Aug 01, 2010
Posts: 5
Longtime lurker, first time caller.  I couldn't resist getting in on this discussion. Generally silage is stored in large amounts since a cow eats a large amount. A thousand pound cow might need 70 or 80 pounds a day. You also need to get silage cut, packed and sealed quickly or you will just have sour corn, then moldy corn. Be sure to study up on the process before you start. If you only are feeding a few head, hay would probably work better for you. My opinion.

Oh, by the way, the old concrete type silos were unloaded from the top.  You climbed up and scooped the silage down the ladder entry.
                                        


Joined: Aug 02, 2010
Posts: 4
Very interesting topic for me to run into on my first day as a "Permie."

We have 120 acres in north central WA. We are working on being a sustainable small family farm using biodynamic techniques and adhering to Demeter standards.

Our land is more suited to raising livestock than focusing on a large market garden but we do raise potatoes, specialty onions, gourmet garlic, and shallots for sale. Currently we have a small flock of Katahdin sheep that we'd like to expand but only if we can produce the majority of their feed on site. We are not on any irrigation grid so we can only count on pasture grazing from May through July, August at the absolute latest.

We're experimenting with a hybrid willow that produces foliage that tests for nutrition right up with 1st and 3rd cuttings of alfalfa. The trees are growing well so now the next challenge is storing the material for fall, winter, and early spring feed. We're looking into a bunker style silo since they have a number of advantages over the more commonly seen upright style.

Happy to share whatever information we come up with and would love any thoughts all of you may have on the subject.
Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
so are you planning to make silage out of that willow?

I'd love more details as it seems like the sort of food my goats would love
                                        


Joined: Aug 02, 2010
Posts: 4
brice Moss wrote:
so are you planning to make silage out of that willow?

I'd love more details as it seems like the sort of food my goats would love


That's the plan. We're working with the people who developed this strain of hybrid willow to come up with a somewhat turnkey operation that will allow micro to small goat and sheep herders (under 200 animals) with a way to grow their own.

Happy to keep you updated as we develop a strategy to make this work.
Emil Spoerri
pollinator

Joined: Oct 19, 2009
Posts: 415
    
    8
Yes, I would like to know if it would be possible for me to grow this willow, where I can get it and if not, where I could get a good alternative. Fedco offers "goat willow" and they claim it's leaves are twice the mass of regular willow leaves. Also could make a nice cut flower.

What are you going to be using to cut this willow? Will you be putting it in stem and branch and all? Will you be mixing it with any other crops?


On another note, perhaps it could be possible to use draft animals to power some sort of grinder and elevator for silage production.
                                        


Joined: Aug 02, 2010
Posts: 4
Emile Spore wrote:
Yes, I would like to know if it would be possible for me to grow this willow, where I can get it and if not, where I could get a good alternative. Fedco offers "goat willow" and they claim it's leaves are twice the mass of regular willow leaves. Also could make a nice cut flower.

What are you going to be using to cut this willow? Will you be putting it in stem and branch and all? Will you be mixing it with any other crops?


On another note, perhaps it could be possible to use draft animals to power some sort of grinder and elevator for silage production.


Here is a link to some information on making willow silage in Bhutan. Rest assured the process is about as low tech as you can get. The only thing I don't like about it is the use of polyethylene as a means of sealing out oxygen to enhance the fermentation process.

http://sapplpp.org/openforum/replicating-the-practice-of-willow-silage-as-winter-fodder

Third paragraph down has a link to a good practice note pdf titled: Willow Silage: An Alternative to Winter Fodder – a Potential GP Note. This is a good reference to what is happening in the semi-arid and arid hill country in South Asia.

I got my willows from Aussie Willow. There are very wonderful people to deal with, I'm a big fan of Fedco but I think for sheep feed this strain of willow has better potential. Right now things are a bit tough for Aussie Willow due to a profound medical challenge that one of the principals is dealing with. If you have trouble getting in touch with them that would be the reason. The web site is located at:  http://aussiewillow.com/ . They sell a strain with foliage that has the same protein content as a good 1st or 3rd cutting of alfalfa.

We planted ours in May and are currently drip irrigating them. Our farm is located in a semi-arid area, pretty dry this time of year. We've got them mulched and they get 1 gal of water every other day. We've been told that once they're well established and their tap roots have gone down into the subsoil they will become drought resistant and won't require any supplementary watering.

So far, so good. Everything we've been told about them in terms of growth potential seems right on target.

As to using draft animals to operate machinery, we need to make our operation self-sustaining which in this economic system means we've got to generate enough revenue to cover the costs of operation and make enough money to pay the bills and a little extra for emergencies. With that in mind I'm looking at adapting small scale corn silage techniques to working with the willows. I'd love to use draft animals but there are only so many hours in the day. I have sheep, pastured broilers, ducks and pigs to work with as well as rabbits, nightcrawlers and black soldier fly grubs that I'm trying to integrate into a sustainable, low outside input system. Got to draw the line somewhere and draft animals just aren't in our equation, but I can sure understand why you'd like to use them.
Emil Spoerri
pollinator

Joined: Oct 19, 2009
Posts: 415
    
    8
Wow, ask and thou shall receive

Wasn't sure if I would get a suitable answer, but I got more, other information I needed...

This should be very important information for my Appalachian neighbors and anyone else living in the frozen north!

A thousand thanks would never be enough!
                                


Joined: Nov 15, 2010
Posts: 22
Hi, I stumbled upon this post while looking up willows for another reason, but here is a great article about cow health that is perfect for you guys.
http://www.mosesorganic.org/attachments/broadcaster/livestock12.5cowtreatmts.html

This is what it says about willows and silage in particular:

"Jerry also encouraged hedgerow planting. He noted that woody plants produce sugars anytime the temperature is above 32 F. "The Europeans always kept these plants around for wind protection, diversity, and to feed their animals in the wintertime." He said bioflavanoids concentrated in the buds of woody plants are anti-virals and augment vitamin C in the immune system.

He said hybrid willow can produce four tons per acre of dry matter, and ranchers in Australia coppice it for cattle, sheep, and goats. "They go crazy for this stuff, because it's loaded with all these nutrients that they can't get in domestic forages." He suggested farmers start hedgerows by taking poor ground "that you don't want to ever plow again" and planting 30 or 40 light-canopy trees per acre, such as willow, mulberry, persimmon, filbert, kentucky coffeetree, or osage orange. "There is no problem getting protein on any of these plants," he said. For instance, mulberry leaves contain 26% protein, to go along with 3% calcium. "Protein's not your yield-limiting factor on the farm. Energy is your yield-limiting factor. Protein is the easy part. I don't know why farmers buy protein." Jerry said protein is abundant because nitrogen is--it makes up 78% of the air, and plants can easily fix it "as long as there is a soil food web that puts the nitrogen in a usable form for the plants." Energy is sunlight captured in chlorophyll and other carotenoids (colored pigments).

One advantage to silage is easier preservation of these carotenoids than with hay. "You want good green hay, in which these compounds have not oxidized too much." But one of the negatives about silage is it tends to convert peptides and proteins into NPN. "That's why I like to throw sugars on grass silage, to get it to ferment NOW." This fast fermentation prevents heat damage and spoilage. Jerry likes to use dairy whey, because it is loaded with lactose sugar. Lactose ferments into beneficial L-lactic acid and is also rich in calcium and potassium. Lime on the silage will also stimulate lactic acid production. He said old recipes have ten pounds of limestone and ten to thirty pounds molasses per ton of silage. "Then you get a really good ferment and less damage."

Hope this helps,
Natalie


I may be a Vegetarian, but I’ll Defend to the Death your Right to eat Meat!
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2403
Location: Vermont
    
  44
Bump.


My project thread
Agriculture collects solar energy two-dimensionally; but silviculture collects it three dimensionally.
Alder Burns
pollinator

Joined: Feb 25, 2012
Posts: 881
Location: northern California
    
  25
There are several good internet resources available under the search heading "small bag silage" One at least is an FAO document targeted to Ethiopia, I think. Silage can apparently be made even in doubled up recycled plastic grocery bags!! I've got a few of these going, but I'm mostly playing with a trash bag set inside of a mesh grain or dog food bag for reinforcement. This might enable the trash bag to be re-used. To cut and chop, I have my electric lawn mower and bagger! Here in CA we MUST mow, by law, for fire control, so I've just added another yield to the activity besides mulch and fire saftety, for those areas where we don't want to let animals graze, such as around trees, gardens, and access areas. I intend to work my way up to discovering how many sheep and/or goats my 1 1/2 acres can support, including a six-month plus dry season when forage doesn't grow. In addition I've got coppice trees started, mostly legumes, and may put in place a policy of summer pruning for my fruit trees, providing additional forage.....


Alder Burns (adiantum)
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2403
Location: Vermont
    
  44
Yes, I've read several of those reports, I was just hoping for a first hand account! Hmm. I guess I could save all those stupid heavy duty plastic bags the feed comes in! Hardly any risk of puncturing those.

I'm probably going to attempt to silage some of the trees I'll be pollarding to. The lawn mower or chipper/shredder should work.
 
 
subject: Sustainable silage?
 
Similar Threads
Raising Rabbits
can blackberry cane be stored for winter feed?
milk cows 100% grass fed
submitting stuff to me for use in a video
Growing cereal in tiny plots
cast iron skillet 49er

more from paul wheaton's glorious empire of web junk: cast iron skillet diatomaceous earth sepp holzer raised garden beds raising chickens lawn care flea control missoula electric heaters permaculture videos permaculture books