Oh hail no! Hail-damaged bags…what now?
While we do our best to put up high-quality forage each year, sometimes Mother Nature has other plans. What is your strategy when disaster strikes your forage bags?
By Vita Plus forage consultants
You did everything right last year when it came to harvest. Your equipment was tuned up, your harvest team was well-prepared, and you spent some of the winter reading about how you can put up even better forages. You look forward to opening the sealed bags and feeding your cows high-quality forages.
But then disaster strikes in the form of golf-ball-sized hail.
You wake up the next morning to find all your bags riddled with holes from the hail. As you frantically tape the holes to try and save your precious feed investment, you soon realize it is impossible to get every hole. You start to wonder about the economic impact this could have on your production.
Unfortunately, no matter how well you plan to put up good forages each year, Mother Nature doesn’t always listen. What’s your strategy when disaster strikes?
Jerry Volenec, Hardscrabble Farms, LLC in Montfort, Wisconsin, was in a similar position in March 2017 when it hailed for a solid three minutes on his bags. When he assessed the damage the next day, he quickly realized tape just wasn’t going to cut it to cover the more than 2,100 feet of damaged silage bags.
To help salvage his feed investment, Volenec made a call to get his bags covered with spray-on latex bedliner. He said someone came out the next day to start the process and all of the bags were covered after four total visits.
Volenec said the decision to spray the bags versus tape them was made due to the number of holes and the fact that “tape doesn’t stick forever.”
Even without the damage, he said he can see an advantage to spraying the bags. The bedliner is waterproof, so it helps protect the feed from the elements, and, in the areas where it was hit heavy, the bedliner made bags two to three times thicker. However, it was expensive.
“It wasn’t cheap, but what’s cheaper?” Volenec asked. “Sealing the bags with bedliner or rebagging them?”
In a similar storm, Randy Kamphuis, Grayce Family Farms, LLC in Waupun, Wisconsin, experienced hail damage to his forage pile. Luckily, insurance covered the damage and his team was able to take the tires off the pile and put on a layer of Silostop® Max the next day.
Two things both farms had in common was the ability to act quickly. Kamphuis gathered the number of workers necessary to quickly replace the cover and tires to save the feed. In Volenec’s case, he said if he didn’t make the call when he did, he might have had to wait weeks for someone to finish spraying others’ bags, risking greater amounts of spoilage.
“Don’t sit on the fence about doing it or not,” Volenec advised.
Having a plan for when disaster strikes and acting quickly helped these two farms save their feed from disaster. What is your plan? Take the time to sit down with your team and establish an action plan to protect your forages in events like this. Contact your local Vita Plus consultant if you need help establishing a plan.
This article was originally written for the May edition of Vita Plus Forage Foundations. Click here for more forage management expertise.
Forage storage and management