Size mat­ters in ‘sausage’ silage

Countryman - - MACHINERY AND TECHNOLOGY - Melissa Wil­liams

South West live­stock pro­duc­ers are in­creas­ingly switch­ing to tube sys­tems to boost ef­fi­cien­cies and cut plas­tic waste when bal­ing silage.

The main ad­van­tage of bal­ing silage, com­pared to pro­duc­ing dry hay, is that pas­ture and crop for­age can be cut and stored at higher mois­ture lev­els of 40-60 per cent. Silage bales are sealed in air­tight plas­tic, which also pro­motes fer­men­ta­tion and helps en­sure a high qual­ity live­stock feed.

Tube stor­age sys­tems, com­monly called ‘silage sausages’, have been avail­able for many years. But new tech­nolo­gies have led to de­vel­op­ment of faster and more labour ef­fi­cient ma­chines that are be­ing adopted by WA farm­ers. These move bales through a ‘hoop’ and into a plas­tic tube for wrap­ping in rows, cre­at­ing a long line — or ‘sausage’ — of tightly sealed silage.

Bus­sel­ton dairy farm­ers An­drew and Claire Jenk­ins have been us­ing an in­no­va­tive tube sys­tem this year and cre­ated a silage row that was 0.5km long, spark­ing much grower in­ter­est on so­cial me­dia.

“You can make the silage tube as long as you like and we were just fol­low­ing the fence with that one,” Mr Jenk­ins said.

“It ended up with 400 rolls of silage in it and we will just cut off sec­tions as we need them. Typ­i­cally, our silage sausage rows con­tain about 100-200 bales.”

The Jenk­ins op­er­ate a 550head dairy en­ter­prise and have 650 hectares of pas­ture at Bus­sel­ton. They also own a sim­i­lar sized dairy at Den­mark.

They have been us­ing a tube silage sys­tem at Den­mark for the past decade, but re­cently up­graded to two self-pro­pelled Tube Line TLR5000 in-line wrap­per ma­chines for their Bus­sel­ton prop­erty. These will han­dle about 3500 rolls of silage an­nu­ally made from im­proved oat, an­nual rye­grass and clover pas­ture that has a biomass of about 3.5-4 tonnes/ha.

Mr Jenk­ins said the ma­chines were pro­cess­ing about 80-90 rolls an hour and could be op­er­ated by one per­son, lead­ing to much bet­ter pad­dock ef­fi­cien­cies. He es­ti­mates his plas­tic costs have halved, com­pared to wrap­ping tra­di­tional sin­gle silage bales.

“This has sig­nif­i­cant en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits, as there is far less plas­tic waste with this sys­tem,” he said.

“There is no need to have plas­tic lay­ers on the end of each in­di­vid­ual silage roll, just at the two ends of the sausage row.”

Mr Jenk­ins said han­dling the silage later was sim­ple, in­volv­ing just cut­ting off the sec­tion needed and cart­ing them back to make a ra­tion for the dairy herd.

He sug­gested the tube sys­tem ideally suited medium-sized live­stock busi­ness op­er­a­tors han­dling be­tween 1000 and 4000 rolls of silage an­nu­ally.

“Any more than that and it might be more eco­nomic to switch to a pit silage sys­tem,” he said. “Be­tween our two prop­er­ties we make about 6200 rolls of silage each year and if this was in one lo­ca­tion, we would use the pits for ef­fi­ciency rea­sons.

“The sausage rolls are a good com­pro­mise on the in­di­vid­ual prop­er­ties.”

Pic­ture: Ed­die Sk­ender

Silo tun­nels, or ‘sausages’, are cut­ting back on plas­tic waste and boost­ing ef­fi­cien­cies for South West live­stock pro­duc­ers, in­clud­ing An­drew and Claire Jenk­ins, who are us­ing a Tube Liner TLR5000 in­line wrap­per that cre­ated this 0.5km long ‘sausage’.

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