While we know that chopping hay while baling, making baleage, and feeding it to your cows with a TMR mixer increases your operations feed value, the true triad of nutrition includes all three of these techniques. By combining all three of these practices you can achieve optimal feed value resulting in more pounds of beef and more pounds of milk. Let’s define why each of these techniques individually helps your operation, then discuss what combining all three can do for you.
Choosing a baler that has a chopper unit on it will make a tighter, chopped bale. These bales will be easier for the cows to eat and your cows will waste less because it gives them a smaller particle size to chew on.
Making baleage has been proven to preserve the feed value of your hay for cows. If you wrap high moisture hay, your rate of gain will improve on a straight hay ration (ie. you only need approximately 8lbs of baleage for a cow to gain 1 lb, whereas for them to gain that same 1lb you would need to feed them 25 lbs of dry hay.)
How do these machines complement each other?
Chopping your hay will create the palatability needed if you put that bale in a TMR mixer when ready to feed. Having a chopped bale will always make your TMR mixer run faster, as the bale will take less time because it is pre-chopped. Adding silage to your TMR mixer immediately increases the value of the mix because of the added nutritional value of the bale. Add this with your other ingredients like grains, remixes and feed additives, and your cows will produce more weight and more milk because they get all the ingredients you want them to have, not just the ones they have picked through.
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Oxygen free storage is a concept that has hit the United States farm market recently, although the concept has been around in other parts of the world in recent history for about 40 years, and also dates back to times B.C.
But what exactly is oxygen free storage?
Lets get scientific. Inside a grain bag is your grain, and whatever it goes in looking and smelling like is what it will come out looking and smelling like. The moisture level will be the same as the day you put it in.
How does this occur? First, aerobic bacteria that is on your grain will use up the free oxygen available in the bag. While it does this, the bacteria are expelling Carbon Dioxide, which increases C02. Because of this, there is a decrease of deterioration in your grain, as well as controlling mold and insect infestation-because bugs cannot live without oxygen. There is no decrease in grain grade due to shrink (like in a grain bin) or oxygen degradation. So essentially there is not much going on inside the grain bag except protection from the outside world, which is just what you want. This way, you can store your grain when you want to and sell when you want to-resting assured that your grain will come out just as it went in.
Oxygen free storage can be stored up to 24 months. the storage is conveniently right on your farm, in the field, or wherever you choose to place them. This gives you the leverage to sell the grain when the market is right and it saves you money on fuel prices back and forth to the bin because you can bag right where you are harvesting, if you wish.
There is a Farm Storage Facility Loan Program that can provide farmers with low interest financing so they can acquire new or upgrade facilities to store grain. This is great news if you are interested in buying a grain bagging system this year! This loan has been available since 2000, but it was hard to determine whether grain baggers would qualify under the loan. But now it is clear that they do in fact qualify.
Grain bagging is an affordable and reliable form of grain storage and now with the loan program, it can make it easier than ever to store grain in grain bags directly in your field while harvesting or at your desired location.
Per the USDA/FSA website, the document reads that eligible commodities run the gamut and range from corn, sorghum, rice, soybeans, wheat, barley and oats- all grains that can be stored in grain bags. In the picture below you can see that it clearly states that baggers are eligible for this loan program.
So, have you considered grain bagging yet? There are advantages like the fact that grain storage in grain bags is portable, so you can bag wherever you are or want to be- whether that’s directly in the field or an easy location on your farm like next to existing grain bins. Richiger baggers are easy to use, have durable bag structure and you know that the type of grain you put in is what you will get out. Due to anaerobic bacteria, this is an oxygen free storage system so moisture levels remain the same as the day you bagged the grain.
We get a lot of first time users ask about pest control when we talk about grain bagging, but don’t fear: we have been bagging grain ourselves for over 10 years and with a little thought and prep, pests will not be a problem. Obviously if there is already a major known pest problem in an area of your land, we wouldn’t recommend choosing that spot to bag. Also, we like to use ammonium nitrate underneath where our bags will go, to ensure pest evacuation (never use sulfur). If you don’t spill large amounts of grain outside the bags, animals will not be able to smell the grain from outside the bag because they are air tight. If someone accidentally punctures a hole in your bag? We sell bag repair tape to fix that. More on frequently asked questions here.
Another benefit of bagging your grain is that bagged grain doesn’t have the added costs of fans or property taxes like fixed grain bags do. And you save fuel by not having to run back and forth to the grain bin to dump. Richiger baggers bag at approximate rates of 39,000 bushels an hour, so you won’t be waiting on trucks to dump either. And the unloading process is simple and fast as well, check out a video we took on our own farm here.
More questions about the Farm Storage Facility Loan program? Click Here
And visit your local FSA office!
More questions about Bagging Grain? Click here for full details. And watch baggers run below!
In some parts of Missouri and across the Midwest, drought conditions are starting to appear and could last for an extended period of time. Many seed suppliers are running short or have run out of sorgum sudan and pearl millet seed because producers used large parts of their hay reserve from last year and hay crops this year have been about 50%. This sends people looking for an alternative forage crop for livestock.
( via NIDIS, 10 June 2018. Pictured above)
We’ve had producers calling us over the past few weeks inquiring about baling and wrapping corn silage, and the process of it. So we are going to break it down into tangible steps you can take to help yourself regarding drought damaged corn.
How does a drought affect corn?
Drought affects corn when the nitrates used to make the plant grow remain at the bottom of the stalk, which puts drought stressed corn at a higher risk for nitrate levels being high. “High nitrate levels are frequently found where high levels of nitrogen fertilizer were applied and where drought-damaged corn is chopped a few days after a rain. Other factors that contribute to high nitrate levels in corn silage are cloudy weather, extremely high plant populations and shortages of soil phosphorus and potassium." (Kallenbach, 2012.)
What can be done?
According to the University of Missouri Ag Extension, if corn has been damaged from drought, you should chop it to help with compression of plant material. This “should help in packing the silage to exclude as much oxygen as possible. Producers should also sharpen the knives on their equipment before making silage.” (Kallenback, 2012).
Chopping will make the next two points easier as well. Like mentioned above, by chopping-the bale you make will be tighter- which will have less oxygen and will make ensiling faster. It will also make mixing easier, since the bale will process better since it is already chopped and won’t have to be chopped again in the TMR mixer.
"Ensiling drought-damaged corn is preferred to greenchop because during the fermentation process, the nitrate content can be reduced by 20 to 50 percent.” (Kallenbach, 2012.)
How to ensile?
“Simply bale high moisture forage and then wrap the bales with plastic film to exclude oxygen.” (Kallenbach, 2012) It is recommended to apply 6-8 layers of plastic wrap.
How has it worked for others?
The University of Missouri mentions a test plot of corn silage in their article called “During Drought, consider baling corn silage.”
“In 2016, a Lawrence county dairyman baled a test plot of corn for silage in collaboration with University of Missouri - Extension, S&H Farm Supply, and Crown Power of Monett. Two balers used included newly available crop cutting technology, while the third baler was a standard baler. Corn was mowed with a roller mower. This method helped keep cobs intact on plants and not left in the field. This type of mower also allowed the corn to fall in rows to accommodate the baler without tedding or raking. Corn wilted in the field until it reached 75% moisture. Corn was baled, net wrapped then wrapped in white plastic. These bales then underwent fermentation until early October. ‘The fermentation profile was remarkably similar to typical corn silage,’ Said Bluel. At feedout, cows wasted little feed and milked well. The project demonstrated that baled corn is a viable feed solution.” (Bluel, 2018).
Even though letting the corn ensile will reduce nitrates by 20-50%, if it still tests at a risky level, your other option is to mix it with other stuffs in a TMR mixer. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln agrees that “add(ing) whole corn, dried distillers grains, or ground dry forage” will give you a better chance of feeding a high quality, lower nitrate ration with your corn silage. (Rasby, Anderson). The University of Missouri also recommends diluting “the silage in the ratio with other low nitrate feedstuffs.” (Kallenbach, 2012.) Feeding from a TMR mixer in general is a practice that allows you to manage exactly what your livestock is getting per serving, because its mixed in a homogenous mix that doesn’t allow them to pick through it, and it creates less waste.
For more information, see the articles listen in our references:
Bluel, Reagan. University of Missouri Extension. “During Drought, consider baling corn silage.” 6 July 2018. http://extension.missouri.edu/barry/documents/Baled%20Corn%20Silage.pdf
Kallenbach, Rob. University of Missouri. “Making silage from drought damaged corn.” 20 July 2012. https://ipm.missouri.edu/IPCM/2012/7/Making-Silage-from-Drought-Damaged-Corn/
NIDIS. National Integrated Drought Information System. U.S. Drought Portal. 10 June 2018. https://www.drought.gov/drought/regions
Rasby, Rick and Bruce Anderson. Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “Options for Drought Damaged Corn Fields.” 10 June, 2018. https://beef.unl.edu/cattleproduction/droughtdamagedcornfields
Roth, Greg and Doug Beegle. Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.
“High Nitrate Potential in Corn Silage” 10 June 2018. https://agsci.psu.edu/aasl/plant-analysis/at-harvest-corn-silage-nitrate-test/high-nitrate-potential-in-corn-silage
University of Illinois Extension. “Drought Stressed Corn as Livestock Feed: Frequently Asked Questions.” 6 August 2012. http://www.beefmagazine.com/disaster/drought-stressed-corn-livestock-feed-frequently-asked-questions
Wheaton, Howell and Fred Martz. University of Missouri Ag Extention. “Corn Silage” 10 June, 2018. https://extension2.missouri.edu/g4590
Wheat harvest has been running hard in mid Missouri for the past few weeks on our farm. First we were in a drought, then it rained like crazy for a few days. The price of wheat is down, so we decided to bag our wheat until the prices seem more reasonable. We’ve been bagging grain for about 10 years now, here are some things we are amazed by every year.
1. Bagging directly in the field saves a lot of time and money. We usually set up a bag at every field we are combining at, so its close for the combine or grain cart to just pull up and dump at. This saves time running back and forth to the grain bins, and it also saves fuel.
2. If it rains, just close the hopper. Some people ask if they have to cut the bag, stop, and close off the bag if it starts raining. Nope! Simply close the hopper on your grain bagger with the bag still on and you are good to go.
3. Our grain bagger is fast. Unloading our grain cart only takes a couple minutes each round, here’s some video below of us bagging.
4. We don’t have to use fans. The moisture we put in is what we will get out, no need for fans, which is nice.
5. It’s easy to probe a bag. If we want to check our bags we simply put bag tape over the spot we want to probe, put the probe in, then put some more bag tape over the hole.
6. We don’t worry about unloading. When we are ready to sell our wheat, we don’t worry about it. We have an unloader that is fast, easy to use, and can get into the field whether its snowing or dry.
Here are some frequently asked questions about our Plastar grain bags that we have received lately from customers who are interested in grain bagging or grain bagging for the first time.
What width and length grain bags do you have?
Our Plastar grain bags are 9 or 10 feet in width and range anywhere from 200 to 333 feet in length, depending on availability.
What thickness are the bags?
We offer plastar premium grain bags that are 9.3 mil in thickness . Our plastar grain bags have been tested by the state of Missouri.
Do you have trouble with pests?
No. We recommend not bagging grain where there is already a known pest problem. Placing ammonium nitrate down before bagging is a safeguard tool, never use sulfur. Unless there is a major grain spill or you have punctured a hole in your grain bag, pests will not be able to smell the grain from outside the grain bag.
What happens if I tear a hole in a bag?
We offer grain bag tape, as well as many dealerships, to patch a hole if one occurs, which is rare.
How many bushels will a bag hold?
9ft Plastar grain bags will hold approx..40 bushels per foot, 10ft plastar grain bags will hold approx. 50 bushels per foot. So for example, if you have a 10x250ft bag, you can estimate 250x50=12,500 bushels stored in one bag.
How much do bags cost?
Our Plastar grain bags cost roughly 0.7 cents a bushel.
Are the bags reusable?
The plastar grain bags are one time use.
Are the bags recyclable?
Yes. See our previous post on recycling options http://www.showmeshortlineblog.com/blog/recycling-ag-plastics
What moisture can I store my grain at in grain bags?
See chart above.
How long can I store my grain in grain bags?
Plastar grain bags are designed to store grain up to 24 months.
What happens to my grain inside the grain bags?
Not much. Aerobic bacteria use up what free oxygen is available inside the grain bag, they expel carbon dioxide which increases CO2 and decreases the risk for deterioration and it also controls mold and insects. There is no decrease in the grade of your grain inside the grain bag and it will remain like it was when you put it in.
1. Hay Fields
Aerate soil, lift matter stuck to the ground, knock down dead standing plants and spread chunks of hay left from previous year. Care must be taken to harrow your fields as early as possible in the season, so as to not lift plants already progressing.
2. On Pasture
Most of the same benefits as hay fields, plus spreading of droppings. If harrowing pasture more than once a year, the gentle side of the harrow should be used. Then pasture could be harrowed several times.
3. Spread Manure
Some of today's spreaders may leave large chunks on the field. The "Bridge" harrow will break lumps and spread manure, making much better use of manure, and it doesn't plug.
Homes, ponds, municipalities, golf courses, etc. Saves a lot of work raking and shoveling, as harrow smooths and levels. Works well along with other leveling equipment.
5. Horse Training
Tracks Loosen packed surface, including packed snow and ice. Works well with other leveling equipment.
6. Preparing Seed Bed
7. Trails and Yards
Loosen packed surfaces.
8. Baseball Fields
Uses After Other Equipment:
(harrow may be hitched directly behind other machinery as well as pulled independently)
Break lumps and pulverizes soil as you prepare your seed bed.
Level ridges and spread any remaining residue.
11. Seed Drill
Level and cover seed.
12. Aerating Equipment (Subsoiler, minimum till drill, no till drill)
Level ridges, breakup and spread any lumps remaining and spread residue which is often present after the use of these machines. (maybridgeharrows.com)
Hearing from customers about how our products made their farming operation easier and more efficient is what keeps us going! So we thought it might be fun to show you a selection of videos from our customers talking about their farms and their machines so you can see it all in one place.
Our first customer below is Brandt Willer of Willer & Ekern Farms in Mexico, MO. Brandt farms a 200 acre farm as well as runs a beef cattle operation. They feed their cattle fescue hay, corn silage that was 160 bushel corn, wet distillers grain from the local ethanol plant and quality liquid feed (2 ½ lbs per head per day). They mix all that into their Jaylor mixer, and the mixer creates a consistent ration for their cattle. Brandt says that he loves the mixer “because you get to run it on lower rpms, its consistent and the cattle cant pick through it.” When Jaylor shot this video, the farm had recently upgraded from a Jaylor 4575 mixer to a 5425 mixer. Listen to their full story below!
Our next customer is Jeremy Jelinek, Grasslands Consultants in Monnett, MO. He purchased a Mchale Fusion baler/wrapper several years back and has run 55,000+ bales through it- and its still going strong! S&H Farm Supply shot this video as well as one with Dalton McElwain of McElwain Farms in Butler, MO who purchased a McHale Fusion Vario and likes the knives and the time it saves being able to both bale and wrap his silage bales at the same time. Watch both of their videos below!
This next video is from Paul Meduna, with Meduna family farms in Colon, NE. They run a custom calving/cow operation with about 750 cows. He has a Teagle 8500 bale processor. They really like their machine for bedding their barns, and the shooting distance he can get with it. Meduna Family Farms also has a Mchale V660 baler, and Chris Meduna talked about that machine below as well. They use their Mchale for their custom baling operation where they bale hay and ruffage/ corn stalks. He loves the ruggedness of the machine, the reliability, consistency and density of the bales. Watch both of their stories below!
This last video is a fun one, we have a great service department and had landed our plane in a customers field to help him with his machine, and as we were flying away the customer took a video and sent it to us, love it!
We already know grain bagging is a great way to gain extra storage and increase profits by storing grain until prices are right, but is grain bagging a sustainable farming practice? Here we will look at 3 ways that grain bagging is in fact, sustainable.
1. Fuel. Grain bagging will reduce the amount of fuel you use during harvest- there is no back and forth to the grain bin, you can unload right into the bagger in the field and create an infield grain terminal for yourself.
2. Electricity. You will use less electricity if you bag grain because you will not have to use fans on your grain. The moisture level of the grain you put into the bag will be what you get out, not much happens to your grain inside the grain bag because the aerobic bacteria uses up what free oxygen is available inside the grain bag, and they expel carbon dioxide which increases CO2 and decreases the risk for deterioration which controls mold and insects.
3. Recycling. Grain bags are recyclable and there are several companies across the US and Canada that specifically recycle farm silage plastic and grain bags. Just a few of them are:
Revolution Plastics & EcoGenX
Other uses for recycled grain bags on your farm you can do yourself are: cover machines, plastic over garden for weed control and under machines that leak oil.
Never seen a grain bagger run before? Check out the video below from our farm last year harvesting soybeans.
Hay season is in full swing, so whether you are a first-time wrapper or have been wrapping for years, keep reading for a list of things you can do to make sure you get the best possible silage from your wrapped hay.
1.Wrap dense, compacted bales. For the best results, you want to wrap tight bales so that the plastic wrap fully encompasses the bale with no room for air pockets. Using the right baler is key, as well as using a balewrapper that fully covers the bale in plastic.
2. Wrap hay between 45-60% moisture. If you wrap your hay between this range you will have good silage that will have good feed value for approx. 1 year. This moisture level is needed to achieve optimal fermentation. The ideal time to mow is during the vegetative stage (just before it is all headed for grass, and for legumes when you see about 10% flowers.) Some good tips on which bales to feed first goes like this:
Feed First: bales that were wrapped at greater than 60% moisture
Feed Second: bales that were wrapped at less than 40% moisture
Feed Last: bales that were wrapped between 40-60% moisture
3. Put at least 6 layers of wrap on your bales. We see a lot of people try to save money by using less layers of wrap, but you are really doing yourself a disservice if you do this. In warmer climates, even 8 layers of wrap are recommended.
Choosing the right silage film is also important: you should pick a film that
-will last one year
-provides excellent oxygen barrier that will keep the CO2 inside the bale
Below is an easy chart of how to count layers based on rotations of the wrapper.
4. Be mindful of where you place your bales. You should place your wrapped bales on a level surface, away from trash, in a well-drained area. You should wrap uphill whenever possible and plan to wrap within 4-8 hours of cutting. You can store individually wrapped bales on their ends where the plastic is thicker whenever possible.
5. Monitor your bales. Just like you check your crop in the field, checking your wrapped bales is no different. Checking your bales for puncture holes regularly will help- and if you do see a hole, use repair tape to patch the hole. Patch tape for wrapped bales should be easily available at your local dealerships.
Adam, Bernard. 2017. “The How and Why of High Moisture Hay.” Tubeline Mfg.
Rankin, Mike. 2016. “Make baleage, not failage.” Hay & Forage Grower.