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Future Lies in Bunker Silos
For cost efficiency and reducing nutrient loss from field to feeding, it's hard to beat bunker silos, according to Dr. Larry Satter, dairy scientist and acting director at the USDA's Dairy Forage Research Center, at Prairie du Sac, Wis.
"We're going to see a lot more of these," Satter told farmers at a recent field day. "I'm not sure how we got so dependent on tower silos. It's a tradition. But right now it's getting to be a costly tradition. If managed properly, bunker silos offer the opportunity to put up silage faster, at a higher moisture content, and with less loss of feed value.
"There's no doubt you can make good silage, at low loss, in bunker sibs," says Dr. Satter. But he adds that good management is essential to the success of horizontal storage. Should a farmer find that impossible, Dr. Satter recommends against using bunkers.
"Good management," he explains, "means packing continuously and well during filling. It also means covering the bunker immediately after filling with heavy plastic."
Dr. Satter notes that, when considering the cost of an unloader, maintenance and the structure itself, cost savings of 40 to 50% can be realized for larger bunkers over tower silos of similar capacity. "The bigger the bunker, the greater the savings," says Dr. Satter, who stresses that "farmers must match bunker size to their herds so they're able to feed off a minimum of 6 in. of silage each day."

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1987 - Volume #11, Issue #6