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Colored Paper Marks Haylage Layers
Color coding silage or haylage as it's blown into the silo helps Gene and Perry Dockter, Twin Brooks, S. Dak., keep track of exactly what they're feeding. The Dockters, who milk 95 cows, keep a record of every field of alfalfa put in the silo by blowing in colored paper with the first few loads hauled off the field. As colored material is fed out of the silo, indicating the start of a new batch from a new field, they take a sample of the haylage and have it tested for quality.
"We use any kind of paper that isn't toxic and is a color that will show up in the haylage," explains Gene Dockter. "This can be a white or brown feed sack, or it can even be cloth. We have also used long straw, and blue paper towels designed for washing cow's udders. We tear the paper into bits about 1 in. square and blow it up into the silo with the load. It only takes one sack, or about 1 Ib, of paper to mark a location inside the silo."
Dockter adds that it's easy to spot the paper when it's unloaded with the silage or haylage. "The cows may eat some of it, but it is mostly picked over and avoided by the cattle," he points out.
The number of places marked in the silo depends on how different the hay or silage crop seems to be. The Dockters always mark to indicate individual fields, and also to identify different parts of the field for unusual conditions, such as haylage that got caught in a heavy rain.
Dockter explains, "It can take a long time to harvest a big field, especially if there is a rain delay, so protein quality at the end of the harvest can be several percentage points lower than atthe beginning as the alfalfa matures."
A sample bag corresponding to a color-code layer in the silo is marked with a simple identification, such as "brown paper at 20 feet" or "blue paper at 4th door". The laboratory test then indicates whether that batch is high, low or average in protein, and supplements can be added as needed when that batch is fed.
The system works good for either top unloading or bottom unloading silos, say the Dockters who store haylage in both a big Harvestore and a big concrete stave silo.
"Our feed has been high enough in protein (22% last year) that we don't have to buy protein, but we add vitamins and minerals as indicated by the forage samples," says Gene Dockter.
For more details, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Gene and Perry Dockter, Route 1, Twin Brooks, S.D. 57269 (ph 605 432-4230).

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1979 - Volume #3, Issue #3