Tuesday, November 27, 2012

SILAGE… It’s what beef eats for dinner

sorg 077          haybabycow 029
haybabycow 030          haybabycow 033
Sorghum is a cereal grass grown for grain and syrup.  We grow it to feed our cows.  We had it harvested two ways.  Some of it was combined for seed and the rest was harvested as silage. This is how it was done in my words and pictures.  I did get some help from Adam and Van on some of the correct terms.   And if you ask my granddaughter, Annabelle, what this stuff is, she will tell you it is CORN!!!
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sorg 092          sorg 094
It is very pretty growing out in the huge fields.  When we decorate for fall… we go all out!!!
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sorg 066          sorg 067
sorg 068          sorg 074
The seed of the sorghum is picked by the combine.
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sorg 057          sorg 058
sorg 061          sorg 060
The seed is then dumped into dump trucks to be taken and used as feed for cows and chickens.
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We had a celebrity truck driver… Brad.              Talking business while taking care of business.
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We keep the seed in the big barn until time to sell it.  It just sits in big piles on the barn floor.  The reason we don’t feed it to our cows is because it has to be rolled and flaked first and we don’t have the equipment to do that. Some of this seed may even be fed to chickens.

The harvesting and chopping of the sorghum is the most interesting part of this whole process.  This step is done by this awesome machine.  It is called a forage harvester.  It looks more like a creature from a horror movie to me.  It is very intimidating up close and personal.  This one is a Claas Jaguar.
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sorg 027          sorg 028
sorg 036          sorg 017
As the sorghum is harvested and chopped it is dumped into trucks. The interesting part is that the truck has to run right beside or right behind the harvester close and fast enough to catch the silage coming out of the dump chute.  This is really something to see.  I am not sure who the better driver is,  the driver of the harvester or the driver of the truck.  This is all done very quickly.
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sorg 029          sorg 039
sorg 030          sorg 038
sorg 041          sorg 080
The trucks follow along so that as soon as one is full there is another to get in place so the harvester does not have to stop for very long.
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sorg 040          sorg 076    
                                     sorg 098
The trucks wait their turn to fall in line and travel quickly over the harvested field, all the while keeping extremely close to the harvester.  The harvesters move so quickly that the trucks don’t have to wait around for very long.
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The silage is then is taken by truck to one of two places.  For quick use feed, it is taken to the barn and to save for winter feeding it is taken to be bagged in huge, long plastic silage bags.
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The silage is weighed before it is taken to the barn or to be bagged.

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  sorg 051        sorg 007
Some of the silage is dumped into the concrete hold up right outside the barn.  That makes it easier to get to when it is time to mix it as feed.  This is what chopped sorghum/silage looks like.
The other loads are dumped into piles inside the barn to keep them protected from the weather.  These piles are used up quick  in just a few days before the silage has time to rot. 
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sorg 050          sorg 052
These dump trucks work different than normal dump trucks. They are called box wagons.   Instead of dumping there is a mechanism inside the bed that pushes out the load. It is a series of chains on the floor that work like a conveyor belt.

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The silage to be bagged is dumped into a silage bagger and packed tightly into this long plastic silage bag.  It can then be sealed and is protected from the weather until it is used to mix as feed. While inside this bag the silage will ferment. The fermentation is actually the silage going through a heat.  This process is beneficial. If not in the bag the silage would rot and be no good for feed.  The purpose of the bag is to keep out all oxygen. The silage is mixed with molasses and chopped up hay and is fed to the cows.  If possible we sometimes like to mix in either brewers grain (the by-product of beer) or citrus pulp (the by-product of orange juice).   Both of these have great nutritional value and are really good for the cows.   These are sometimes hard to find and get delivered but we we can get them the cows seem a little more happy… I wonder why.  FYI citrus pulp smells good, but brewers grain, also called milo, stinks to the high Heavens…yuck, yuck, yuck!!!!!   You can smell this stuff from really far away.
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Harvesting and combining sorghum is just another one of our many processes.  Just another thing we are fortunate enough to be able to grow.  This is the second year we have harvested sorghum.  As with everything we do, it is a learning process.  We learn what to do and not to do next time.  These processes never cease to amaze me.  The intricate steps that have to be taken in a precise order to get the desired result.  It is an amazing world we live in.  Anyone who ever said farmers are simple-minded people have never met my farmers.  And they would be smart to never say a negative word about them either, particularly within earshot of me.   I love farmers… especially mine.
sorg 085          sorg 091