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Small scale feed silo fed by lawnmower and garden waste  RSS feed

 
Dale Hodgins
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This isn't one that I have figured out. It's something that I've been ruminating on for half an hour. A Google search produced many results for giant silo systems and no results for those who may have 100 lb of feed to store each day.

Do any of you know of any type of wet storage system that could work on the scale I'm suggesting? Something based on big garbage cans or bags might work. Those big plastic wine vats are air tight and the right size.

I got to thinking about this while looking through the lawn care forum. The incredible waste of a large lawn can be virtually eliminated by making use of the forage.

Grass grows most vigorously on this island, during periods when it's too wet for making hay. Silage can be a good all weather alternative. With a proper storage system, every landscaper could become a hog farmer on the side. I'm considering the purchase of the largest battery powered mower available. Originally, my plan was to create soil by composting the grass. I'd rather bag it tightly and use it as winter feed.

Let us know what you think or have done with very small silos. Thanks, Dale.
 
Bill McGee
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Maybe large fabric collection bags, and a solar oven type dryer? Hang the bags and let them dry
 
Dale Hodgins
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That sounds like a different way to make hay. I want to make silage. I'm sure that I've done it accidentally before. Many times, I've filled a garbage can with grass and put a lid on it. A few days later, the material has that sweet, fermented smell.
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My dad's place has a big lawn that has often been used to graze livestock and to grow forage. A mower with a bagger was used. My autistic brother has an odd compulsion to cut grass. He used to cut everything at home and then do the ditches up to a quarter mile from home. This was a waste and very hard on lawnmowers. Dad got the machine with the bagger, so that my brother could feed the animals that were fenced beside the lawn. This slowed him down and he learned to harvest the lawn a little bit each day, according to the needs of the hungry critters beyond the fence. My family were seldom successful at redirecting Darryl's activities, but this one worked. He spent hours hand feeding, petting and talking to the animals. Now the lawn was food and he treated it as food. A few strips were cut each day and mowers lasted longer.
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I don't have any lawn at the farm. Many of my customers grow grass that serves only as a carpet. Sprayed grass is uncommon here. The sort of people who hire a guy with a battery powered mower, are not the ones who spray. This could be a good way for me to get paid to feed some animals. I won't buy the mower unless I can line up ten customers. This should be easy for me, since I have been trimming trees, pulling stumps and doing other landscape stuff. A few calls should do it.
 
R Scott
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I know I have seen garbage can/bag silage instructions somewhere, but I can't find them now from my tablet.

I would probably use clamp top plastic barrels if I could find them. Good seals and should last forever in that application. Make it in the back of the truck at the customer site and then just unload the barrels at home when full.
 
Dale Hodgins
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R Scott wrote:I know I have seen garbage can/bag silage instructions somewhere, but I can't find them now from my tablet.

I would probably use clamp top plastic barrels if I could find them. Good seals and should last forever in that application. Make it in the back of the truck at the customer site and then just unload the barrels at home when full.


That's the plan. I want to do all processing on the day that it's cut. That way, I wont have to remember to do anything later. This site pretty much gives us proof of concept. The magazine is Small Farm Canada. The farmers in this story are just south of the boarder. http://smallfarmcanada.ca/2014/making-forage-on-a-very-small-scale/
 
Druce Batstone
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Just recently, I saw bags of silage made from sugarcane tops. These were at least 6 years old. I opened one and the contents seemed reasonable and probably OK for animal feed.

The bags were the remnants of an attempt to produce silage for export. The green tops were harvested by a specially designed harvester before the stalk was harvested for milling. The tops were shredded, sprayed with inoculum, pressed into a block and wrapped with several layers of plastic.

Dale, seems to me that you have every chance of making and storing feed from lawn clippings. You may need to experiment with adding a mix of molasses and lactic acid bacteria before pressing into a durable, air-tight bag. A low cost method of pressing could be in a wheelie bin with the aid of a mechanical lever arm that hooks onto the handles of the bin; e.g. http://www.bintrasher.com/domestic.html
 
Dale Hodgins
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Fallen fruit is a free source of sugar. Corn or beets could raise the sugar content. I will definitely try restaurant scraps.

If I find that this is worth the trouble, I will offer disposal to lawn care companies. There are several who won't spray poison. I would leave a trailer and cans at their location. If I can get them onto filling them correctly, disposal will be very cheap. If not, I'll charge more. I've done a similar thing with tree waste before.
 
Cj Sloane
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I made 1 bag of "baleage" this summer from tree leaves as a test. I was thinking about opening it up next week, when temps are above freezing to see how if it worked. I think I'll be able to smell it better when it's warmer. I followed the directions from the small farm canada link.

I'll post the results.

Just to remind myself:
Warning signs include silage that’s red, orange, black, white or slimy from fungal mould or bacterial growth, and silage that smells rancid or musty. If it doesn’t smell good don’t feed it.
 
Cj Sloane
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Druce Batstone wrote: The tops were shredded, sprayed with inoculum, pressed into a block and wrapped with several layers of plastic.


I have wondered if a homescale garbage compacter would be worth it. I think I put 2 garbage bags in a can and compressed it as best I could and then used a 3rd bag to wrap it again. I did consider spraying with something sugar but didn't do it this go around.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I often fill garbage cans and compact by standing in the can and jumping. I haven't tipped over yet, but I have split a damaged can. I can squeeze 40 lb of grass into one.

CJ has some good advice about rotten stuff.

I'd like to try a mix of grass with chopped up fruit tree trimmings. I suppose goats would like to try that as well.
 
Craig Dobbson
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Once it's packed in tight you could use a shop-vac to suck out most of the air and then tie it off with a cable tie. As long as you can keep it from being punctured you'd be all set. Maybe.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Yeah, keeping the air out is much more of a challenge than getting it out initially. Stacking the bags inside a smooth container should do it. Old chest freezers are relatively smooth inside and vermin proof.

Bags or cans could serve as temporary storage and fermentation tanks. I could save them up until I go to the farm, and then empty them into a wine vat.
 
Cj Sloane
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So my test was probably a fail. I opened it the other day because I noticed the bag was getting scratched like something wanted to eat what was inside:



It smelled fine. Not fermented like it should, and not "evil" like bad silage is supposed to smell.
It was brown and should be green. There seemed to be a little white mold in the middle which I have seen in balage.

The cows didn't eat it but they refused regular balage on day 1 too.

Sigh.... I wish I had made some regular dried tree hay to see how that would've held up.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Cj Verde wrote:So my test was probably a fail. I opened it the other day because I noticed the bag was getting scratched like something wanted to eat what was inside:



It smelled fine. Not fermented like it should, and not "evil" like bad silage is supposed to smell.
It was brown and should be green. There seemed to be a little white mold in the middle which I have seen in balage.

The cows didn't eat it but they refused regular balage on day 1 too.

Sigh.... I wish I had made some regular dried tree hay to see how that would've held up.


I think you slowly made hay. I may try this with small branches from cottonwood and alder. I'll mix in green grass with everything, since it seems to want to be silage. I have lots of stray patio blocks. Filled bags placed under blocks, would tend to lose more air over time. If there is a little leak in an unweighted bag, woody material can become springy and force the bag to expand. I've talked to a couple other organic landscapers who would dump grass in a trailer placed in the right part of town. They would pay a little.
 
Alder Burns
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I'm going into my second season now making bag silage with my lawnmower. A search of the term "bag silage" will bring up several resources. Essentially you want to pack the green stuff tightly into an airtight container. A new trash bag does well, the heavier the better, or doubled, or put inside another bag like burlap or mesh to hinder it's getting punctured. There are pet food bags that are heavy plastic or airtight plastic/mesh that are excellent. You can put the bag into a can or something to get it started, but don't pack it all the way or you will have trouble getting it out of the can! Usually with the bag doubled with a stout bag on the outside I just get it started and begin trampling each big handful of clippings. When full, twist as tight as you can and tie shut. The stuff ferments in there and then keeps. When you open it up there will often be a moldy cap on top where a bit of air got in....send this to the compost and the rest will usually still be good. I'm stockpiling getting ready to have sheep.....the sheep can graze through the wet winter and then eat silage and hay (which I'm scything and piling under cover, also) in the bone-dry summer. I've given a bag to a friend down the road who already has sheep and it passed the edibilty test just fine......
This gets along very well with a bagging mower.....just walk the area and pick up sticks, dog dirt, etc.....anything that can puncture the bags or not be good in the feed. I get a tidy yard, fire control, and animal feed all in one action.....
 
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