One of the few areas of agriculture I have little experience with is putting up and feeding silage to cattle. My grandpa and my dad milked cows before I was around, and they would put up some silage for the dairy cows. My grandparent's farm had an earthen trench silo on the place to store the feed.
By the time I came along, the black-and-white (and a few brown-and-white Guernsey) dairy cows had been replaced with black beef cows and my grandparents had sold their farm. And while beef cows certainly can be fed silage, this was just not something my dad fed his cow/calf herd.
I learned quite a bit about silage from attending the Silage for Beef Cattle 2018 Conference held in Mead, Nebraska, on June 15. The conference was sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Iowa Beef Center and Lallemand Animal Nutrition.
In a presentation by Andy Skidmore, technical services - ruminant for Lallemand Animal Nutrition, the issue of safety around silage was addressed. Skidmore said one of the bigger issues facing those who work around silage facilities is safety.
"Be alert and be aware," Skidmore said. "Issues happen because of complacency."
There are many safety issues working around silage storage facilities, no matter the type or size of storage. The major hazards would include falling from a height, being run over by machinery, tractor rollovers, getting entangled in machinery and being crushed by a silage avalanche, he said.
Skidmore had several recommendations for those who work with and around silage to keep in mind.
First, workers should stay a safe distance away from the face of the silage pile. The threat of being crushed by a silage avalanche is a real thing, he said.
Secondly, Skidmore suggested to always bring a buddy to work around silage. Never work alone near a silage storage facility, he said.
When the silage facility is being filled, always maintain a safe work environment, Skidmore said. The threat of being run over by machinery packing the silage or by tractor rollovers and silage falling on workers are all possibilities, he said.
Skidmore said that when silage is being fed, it is also important to carefully maintain the feed-out surface. When inspecting the feed or sampling silage, do this very cautiously.
And, finally, feed silage correctly and safely, he said. Because they're working around machinery and there's always the threat of a silage avalanche, workers need to be attentive when loading out silage to be fed to cattle.
"We want every person to go home to their family at the end of every day," Skidmore said.
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