2009 - Volume #33, Issue #5, Page #18[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
"Grass Clippings" Make Good Silage
The Frametown, W. Va. farmer dumps the clippings from his riding mower into bags designed for 5-ft. dia. silage bales. A 5-ft. high, homemade metal rack supports the bags while they're being filled. The rack consists of a ring on top with three sets of crossed rebars welded to it.
After he fills a bag with grass clippings Van Buren ties the top of the bag tight to keep water out. Then he lifts the rack off and puts another empty bag inside the rack.
"We convert all the grass that's mowed on our farm into silage. It makes great feed for our five cows," says Van Buren, who has been making silage out of grass clippings for five years. "It takes a little extra work but I think it's worth it since we bag our grass clippings anyway. I probably spend an extra 30 minutes to fill each bag. That's not a lot of time considering how much money I save on buying hay."
When he's ready to feed the clippings, usually in November or December, he opens the bag and shovels the clippings into a fence line feed bunk or onto a small trailer that he pulls behind his ATV. Later he can either unload the grass from the trailer into the bunk or let cattle feed directly off the trailer.
"Cattle will actually quit eating grain so they can feed on the grass clippings. Our local extension agent tested the clippings for feed value and found they have a protein content of 18.2 percent, and a digestible matter content of 68 percent. That digestible matter content is higher than hay, which typically averages about 59 percent. The clippings are so high in digestible matter because we mow once a week, which always results in all fresh, new grass," says Van Buren.
The grass clippings get hot during the first three or four days they're in the bag before cooling down, which is the normal curing process, says Van Buren. "When I take the grass clippings out the following winter they still have a real damp texture. A full bag of clippings weighs 700 to 800 lbs. I can't use a loader to move a full bag because the bag would just fall apart.
"If I'm careful with the bags they'll usually last for two or three years. I've also found that smaller 40-gal. contractor garbage bags work good, too."
The bags sell for $7.50 apiece and come in a roll that contains 15 bags, says Van Buren.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Wesley Van Buren, HC 69, Box 76, Frametown, W. Va. 26623 (ph 304 364-8705).
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