Corn Silage Harvest Preparation

Ready for corn silage?

Here is a basic list of things to do in preparation. Check off these items as you go.

1. Met with your nutritionist - Decide on goals:

2. Get ready -

If you use a harvesting contractor, contact him with your expected dates and harvest goals.

  • Tell him what kind of inoculant you will be using and specific application instructions. Order it yourself if needed. 
  • Show him where the piles/bunkers will be and the packing job you expect. (Blade drivers will push no more than 4 to 6 inches at a time, and silage layers will be packed evenly.)
  • Make arrangements for rented or leased pack tractors as needed.

If you are using a covering contractor, contact him with your expected dates and harvest goals. 

  • Specify films to be used, tire or gravel bag coverage, and edge sealing expectations.
  • Find out how much notice works best for them, and who to call. 
  • Agree on a time limit that piles or bunkers must be covered by.

If you are using your own equipment:

  • Tune it up, sharpen it up, and make sure all safety guards and shut down, keep hands out placards are attached and visible. Make sure safety belts work.
  • Wash out inoculant tanks and attach snugly to the machine.
  • Clean windows, provide a loaded grease gun and fire extinguisher.
  • Order Biotal® inoculant. Upon delivery, pay attention to storage and handling instructions. Inoculants are alive, don’t kill them with heat. If you are using different formulations, be sure it is clear which one goes on which fields.
  • Order Sealpro® and Coverpro® films and be clear in your instructions, using brand names to identify exactly what materials you want to use. Check your measurements to make sure you have enough. 

Prepare the area:

  • Clean up old feed, trash, tire piles, old silage plastic. Level off dirt areas allowing correct slope away from the pile or bunker area. Fill any holes. If you are working on cement or asphalt, clean it up. Prepare to have a water vehicle to keep the dust down.

2. Communicate - Have a team meeting of everyone who is involved in silage harvest:

  • At the risk of repeating yourself, be clear in your thoughts and instructions.
  • Explain in short why jobs are done the way you ask that they be done.
    • It is easier for people to carry out directions when they understand why they are doing their tasks a certain way.
    • It also provides great satisfaction to do the job as expected.
    • At the least, explain that if we make our forage the right way, there will be less pitching, less spoiled feed, and the dairy will be safer.
  • Make a phone list. Put it on card stock so it can go in the wallet. Hand this list out at your team meeting.
    • Include your cell number, the nutritionist, the chopping contractor, the covering contractor, any crew bosses, and your employees that will be working the harvest.
    • Remind everyone that if someone gets hurt, call 911. Add the number for your local fire department, sheriff, and hospital. 

3. Execute the Plan - 

  • Enjoy the process. Take the challenge to make this your best harvest ever.
  • Rest well, eat well, take breaks as needed.
  • Breakdowns are going to happen. 
  • Weather (either wet or dry) will be an issue. 
  • Control what you can and let the rest go.