Do your bunkers need a spring forage face lift? (Jon Rasmussen and Jon Urness)
This winter that will probably go in the books as just average for temperatures. The periods of extreme cold are what most of us will remember about the 2014-15 winter.
During those cold spells, our forage faces might have sagged a bit. It’s just not fun to manage plastic and feed faces when it feels like Siberia out there.
Now is a good time to review good face management practices and get back on track.
- Consider plastic removal rates. During the winter, it was unpleasant and downright dangerous to trim back plastic on a daily basis, so extra plastic may have been removed ahead of feeding. During the cold months, this probably caused no harm. However, with warmer temperatures and spring rains coming, it’s time to keep that plastic trimmed close to the feedout edge.
- Oxygen is the enemy. Tighten the front edge of the plastic with gravel bags to greatly reduce the amount of oxygen getting under the plastic. Depending on wind direction and strength, billowing plastic can wreak havoc with the feed just below the plastic. This kind of spoilage is often indicated by bluish-green mold 6 to 12 inches under the plastic. Good packing, correct moisture in the feed, and Silostop orange film followed by top-notch plastic management (including gravel bags on the feed edge) can prevent those issues.
- A clean face is essential. Once again, exposure to oxygen is a problem. Cleanly defaced feed will have a much smaller surface area exposed to oxygen compared to one that has been dug into with a bucket. Buckets create cracks, some of which are unseen, and that allows for much greater infiltration. Density measurements reveal this challenge. In general, properly defaced feed has significantly higher density to the depth of the probe than feed that has been dug into with a bucket.
- Always be safe. Bunkers and piles are at their maximum height this time of year and the danger of cave-in is always there. Do not let yourself or someone on your team make the headlines for a bunker accident story.
Forage storage and management