THE MONTHLY MAGAZINE SECTION
SEASONABLE SILO SUGGESTIONS
FROAl the enthusiasm with which many
discuss the beneficence of the silo, the
unsophisticated might gather that
about all that was necessary was the silo;
that it could be filled any time, with most
anything. Following that idea would bring
speedy decline in the high favor in which
it has come to be held by the American hus
bandmen. One cannot expect to get more out of the
silo than he puts into it. That is, should
it be filled with inferior feed, the silage will
be inferior. One can secure the best silage
only by using the best quality of forage. It
stands to reason that suitable crops cut at
the proper stage of development will make
the best silage.
There are four crops that take precedence
as silage-makers in Kansas, and they are
corn, kafir, milo and "cane." Corn has long
been considered the king of silage crops,
and anyone who can reliably raise corn
year after year, need seek no further, but
kafir, milo and "cane" also make excellent
silage. This is important to Kansas, for it
means that all portions of the state may
regularly produce silage crops every year.
With the full silo assured, one may engage
in the live stock industry without the fear
of that old bugaboo, a shortage of feed.
In seeking to determine the comparative
value of corn, kafir and "cane" silage in the
rations of milk cows, experiments at the
Kansas station indicated that corn silage
was slightly superior, as a milk producer,
with kafir second, and "cane" silage third.
The animals seemed to gain in live weight
more readily, however, on "cane" silage,
which suggests that it contains more fat
tening nutrients than kafir or corn. With
a suitable grain ration, it is believed that
"cane" silage would be equal, ton for ton,
to corn or kafir. More protein and less fat
forming nutrients in the grain ration would
be the requirement.
Comparative Values of Silage.
In discussing these experiments in the
Board's recent biennial report, T. A. Bor
man, one of the best posted men in the
country on sorghums, their culture and feed
ing value, said :
"Although the kafir and cane silage were
shown to be slightly less valuable than corn
silage, there are other factors that must be
considered, namely, yield and adaptability
to local conditions. Without doubt, the in
creased yield of cane and kafir per acre will
offset the slight increase in feeding value
obtained from corn silage. Kafir and cane
are dry-weather-resistant crops and can be
grown over a wider territory than corn, and
from one-third to one-half more tonnage
per acre can be obtained."
From these experiments and the results
obtained by dairymen and stockmen in all
portions there is no question as to the value
of the sorghums as silage crops, and farm
ers throughout the state may provide them
selves with an abundance of excellent silage
making material. There is no excuse for
anyone going without silage if silage is de
sired. Stage for Silage Harvest.
At this season of the year the filling of
the silo is a matter of general interest.
Properly filling the silo is essential to first
class silage. The stage of maturity when
crops should be harvested for silage is im
portant. There is a period in the growth
By J. C. MOHLER
SECRETARY STATE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE
and development of each crop when it is
best suited for ensiling. With corn, it is
when the grain has passed out of the milk,
the more forward ears are dented, and the
husk and blades take on a tinge of brown.
This is the stage quite universally favored
by the experienced stockman for greatest
feeding value. Thus, no essential element
is lost, whereas cut when immature there is
a serious deficiency in quality. For approxi
mately two weeks preceding complete ma
turity there is a very rapid increase in the
quantity of nutrients. One should be care
ful, therefore, not to ensile a crop too soon.
It had better go in too ripe than too green
or immature. Broadly speaking, there is a
period of, say, two or three weeks when the
corn will do for the silo.
Over-ripe or badly frosted corn may be
turned into good silage by applying water
in the blow-box of the cutter, and this is
much prefered to silage from the immature
When to Ensile.
I know of several farmers who have en
siled kafir after it had stood in the shock all
winter. In fact, one farmer friend not long
since told me that he had filled his silo five
times a year, in the summer, late in the fall,
in the dead of winter, in the spring and
early in the summer.
This was George Tannahill, a successful
stockman of Vernon, Woodson county,
Kansas. He says stock seemed to eat the
silage that was put up last with as much
relish and do as well on it as that put up in
the fall when the kafir was first ready. He
adds that the important part is to cut the
kafir at the stage when it is ready to ensile.
Then leave it in shock until needed, and
when put in the silo add about three times
as much water as when filling the silo in
the fall with the green kafir. Mr. Tanna
hill says :
"The only difference I can see in filling
the silo in the middle of the winter or any
other time silage is needed, is to use more
water than in filling the silo with green
fodder, and then let the mass stand for
about three weeks before feeding." It takes
a good deal longer to soften and "cook" the
hard, dry, flinty stalks of kafir or corn than
kafir or corn that comes direct from the field
and is cut green. He uses about half a
barrel of water to the ton in putting up
green silage. The silage from any of the
five cuttings is fed out with practically equal
success, in Mr. Tannahill's experience.
In cutting kafir and "cane" for silage, the
crops should be practically mature ; that is,
the seed should be mature. At this time
the stalk still possesses enough juices to
make good silage. If put up too green it
will make sour feed. The silage should be
put up before frost is possible, but it is ad
visable to let the crop stand until after frost
instead of putting it up too green. After
a heavy frost the crop should be cut and
siloed immediately. If the forage dries out
too much before cutting, sufficient water to
pack well should be added.
Soft Corn for Silage.
There are likely this year to be some
farms that will have nothing but soft corn,
owing to late planting because of the more
or less continuously wet weather. In all
probability the silo affords the means of
getting the most out of this sort of feed.
The man with a silo is in position to make
the best of this condition, and the man
without one, and similarly situated as to
corn, might find it profitable to build a silo
to utilize his soft corn to the best advantage.
It is worth investigating. A silo should be
on every stock farm anyway, and if the
prospect of "soft corn" influenced the
building of a silo "soft corn" should be
credited and another blessing in disguise be
chronicled. As stated before, one cannot
expect to take out of his silo any better feed
comparatively than he puts in it. But "soft
corn," if properly taken care of and ensiled,
will make a large volume of feed that other
wise might prove of small value. At any
rate, siloing the "soft corn" is probably the
best use to which such corn can be put and
the most profitable way it could be handled.
In cutting crops for ensiling, the most de
sirable length is variously estimated, but
ordinarily the shorter the better, enabling a
more thorough mixture of the mass and
more compact settling. The exclusion of
air is the main point, and is absolutely nec
essary for well-preserved silage. Perhaps
half-inch lengths might be about the aver
age. There has been considerable said about
the time of filling, whether it should be
done quickly or, say, rather leisurely. Ex
perience seems to indicate that either way
is quite satisfactory, the method adopted de
pending more on the farmer's convenience
than anything else. About the only point
found here for discussion is in the fact that,
filled at intervals, the silage gradually set
tles, with the result that more feed is put in.
Many contend, however, that the settling
through lack of extreme weight is not so
uniform and compact, and for this reason it
is possible the silage may not keep in as
good condition as when filled without delay.
At any rate many farmers like to hustle
the work through and have it finished.
Extra help is needed on almost every farm
on such occasions, and it is not easy to as
semble at all times.
Silage is put up more cheaply, however,
when filling in large quantities. Where
convenient to let it settle for a week or ten
days, possibly as much as a fourth more
silage may be added in some cases. When
two or more silos are side by side, filling
alternately, in one one day, then the other
the next day, etc., giving each time to set
tle, is of course a good plan. When left for
several days it will likely be found that the
top portion should be removed before re
filling, as naturally a little of the surface
silage would be spoiled. A rather common
practice among many prominent silo users
is to fill for a couple of days, tramping thor
oughly, let it settle for a day, and then
finish the job on the fourth day.
Farmers May Co-operate.
Owing to the demands for additional la
bor, as well as for the necessary machinery,
some system of co-operation might be
readily and profitably evolved, especially in
those districts where silos are numerous.
Through this plan the cost of equipment
may be saved in the course of time and the
expense of operating is reduced to bedrock.
Three or four or more silo owners of a
neighborhood might well adopt this method.
Of course this does not imply that a part of
the outfit should consist of the thresher en-
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