• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Silage: Kimchi for cattle

 
Ben Walter
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I came across this brochure for making silage from sweet potato vines and tubers. It can be done on a small scale and can be a great feed to bridge gaps in forage production. (you have to download the pdf for the brochure)

Last summer I grew a bunch of sweet potatoes and sorghum. I fed fresh sweet potatoes greens and culled potatoes to the animals...and the sorghum grain went to the chickens. I didn't even think of silage as a way to preserve the greens. I'm thinking the sorghum stalks, greens and culled potatoes would be a great recipe. Also adding a little kelp meal?

I would appreciate any thoughts or suggestions.
 
C Englund
Posts: 12
Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sorghum isn't an unusual silage crop, however grain and forage sorghum are different varieties. Forage sorghum copes with dry weather better than forage corn. Silaging requires green (wet) crops though so you won't be getting the grain harvest off them.

I had not heard of using sweet potatoes and vines, though I don't see why it wouldn't work (I mean obviously they're doing it wherever that brochure was designed for).

Before you try making any I cannot stress enough though that the moisture content has to be right (I guess that's why they were adding the molasses water, we always just harvest when the crop is at the right stage...), and that it has to be well packed and pretty darn airless. If it gets air it will spoil, and if it comes out smelling moldy, rotten, or rancid, it's mulch, not feed. Even birds or animals poking holes in your bags, if you go that route, will cause a layer of spoilage around the outside.

Are you planning on using the bag system shown in the brochure?
 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
pollinator
Posts: 308
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Neat brochure, Ben. You could probably up the scale a little bit by using some sort of chipper / mulcher. The stat they used of four people for one day for 500 kg makes it seem like it might be a pretty big project if you have many cattle or need to feed very long.

I wonder if their mix was low on sugar for fermentation, necessitating the molasses?
Was anyone else surprised at how elaborate their drain system was?

Mother Earth has an article with some links on even smaller-scale production with lawn clippings / garbage bags. If I ever decide to keep chickens through the winter I thought I'd like to try that.

 
Ben Walter
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Right now I'm thinking of using food grade plastic 55 gal drums. This may be overkill, but I'm sure they will last a long time. I could easily put a little drain and valve at the bottom.

I was thinking of using the dry stalks after harvesting the sorghum grain and layering it thinly with the sweet potato greens and tubers. I figure it may soak up some of the excess moisture from the greens.

I was thinking of using a chipper...we have a crappy electric one that someone gave my dad years ago. I tried it with sticks and it was a joke, but I didn't throw it away. Hopefully it will chop up the sorghum stalks and culled sweet potatoes. I'll have to figure out something else to chop up the sweet potato greens, probably just do it by hand. I also thinking of adding comfrey is small amounts, canna lilly, moringa, etc to add to the nutrient content.

I'll play around with recipes and hopefully get something dialed in quickly.

Thanks for the info.
 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
pollinator
Posts: 308
8
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ben, I really don't think that dry stalks after harvesting grain is going to make silage . I'd ensile the whole plant at the soft dough stage in order to get some nutrient value in it. Maybe you could split the field and cut half early for silage, leave the rest for grain and straw?
 
Saybian Morgan
gardener
Posts: 582
Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thats fantastic they built the most baddass bokashi setup and flipped it to silage, I'm excited I know i can handle this.
I have a moisture meter and a cement mixer for when im making feed pellets, the hammer mill will do lovely for sizing things down.
I've been afraid of silage for some reason even though I lacto ferment my ass off with everything I can put in a mason jar, maybe it's just scale anxiety that I havn't looked at rationally.
I collect all these rural brochures for 3rd world countries because that put's the projects into my economic bracket and the resources required are as available to me on this side of the world as they are to them.

I dry everything and it stays green, but I think the animals deserve that pickled goodness i stuff in my face at dinnertime. It's simply on another level of nutrition that concentrated dried material can't compete with, even though that dry forage is superior to conventional inputs.
 
C Englund
Posts: 12
Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You really don't want to use the dried stems, because the majority of the non-fiber nutrients (the sugars, proteins, etc) are gone into the seed or the root or just plain broke down. You won't get a proper fermentation, and chances are you won't be able to get enough of the air out for it not to spoil even if there was enough sugar to make it kick. Farmers doing this in silos will go so far as to fill them with C02 to get out the air for high quality feed. It really needs packed in with the right moisture and sugars level.

The 55 gallon drums is a great idea if you can get the lid to seal right. Robust enough to take packing the chopped forage in. And they already have drains in the lids! That whole bit with the hole punched hose seems a bit much, if 30' diameter x 100' tall silos don't need one, a 3' bag shouldn't.

Oh, and you could always distill the run off Our corn silos will knock you over with the smell of 'shine.
 
Ben Walter
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for the heads up guys.

I'll stay away from the dry stalks and possibly add some fresh if I have them at sweet potato harvest, or I can just make separate batches.

 
Ben Walter
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Oh, and you could always distill the run off Our corn silos will knock you over with the smell of 'shine.


LOL! I bet it's rough stuff.

Also, for those of you that have failed at making silage, I'm assuming it's pretty obvious when it's spoiled and not preserved. Is that the case? What are signs of spoilage?
 
C Englund
Posts: 12
Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ben Walter wrote:
Oh, and you could always distill the run off Our corn silos will knock you over with the smell of 'shine.


LOL! I bet it's rough stuff.

Also, for those of you that have failed at making silage, I'm assuming it's pretty obvious when it's spoiled and not preserved. Is that the case? What are signs of spoilage?


I guess it would be if you distilled it. All the animals love to lap up the juice. It really smells pretty sweet as it is coming out.

It will be ugly and smelly if it's not good. You may be able to see mold, and it will be an odd shade of brown/black. It will smell moldy, rancid, rotten. Good silage should come out more or less natural green (some fading or darkening is fine) (I'm not sure what color the potatoes would turn) and smell good. We've had visitors to the farm try to eat the silage coming out of the silo because it smelled so good.
 
Ben Walter
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks!

I'm definitely going to try to make a few types this year. I don't mind messing up a batch, I just don't want to kill any animals!
 
Ben Walter
Posts: 92
Location: Deland, FL
1
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic