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Making your winter feed now: silage

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Making winter feed:


http://www.motherearthnews.com/happy-homesteader/small-scale-silage-production-for-chicken-feed.aspx


Great article at the link, and links to more info on the page. 
From all the articles, here is a summary:

Silage provides better nutrition than hay for winter, except it lacks vitamin D, and can be produced a couple of bags a day, or from lawn clippings when you mow.  Specifically check out small bag silage, which uses bags from grocery sized to large feed bag size.  Bags must not have any holes, and thin plastic must be double or tripled bagged.

Silage can be fed to many different animals if you have a mix, like cows, sheep, goats, and chickens.  It stores well over winter, and takes less space than hay.  You can feed it as the sole food or with other food, like dry hay or bagged feed. 

Do not feed more than the animal will quickly eat, and clean out any left over.  It will spoil.  Try to use an entire bag, or ensure the bag with remaining silage is compressed and well sealed after you quickly take out the portion you need.

The process is a pickling of the green matter, so silage should have a pleasant, slightly sour odor; be light green to a brownish green; and have a leafy, soft texture that is damp rather than wet.

A grocery bag would hold about 11 lbs of silage, and a large feed bag would hold about 33 lbs.

One small bag would be enough for 22 chickens per day, if you figure 1/2 lb per chicken per day.
If you use it as a supplement, a much larger flock would be supported on one small bag, but you could halve your winter feed costs, while still providing excellent food.

(I had a really hard time finding chicken ration info, so if anyone has silage experience, please feel free to correct me!)

Goats and sheep get 11 lbs each a day, or 1 lb if they also get half their food from hay.

A cow gets 30 to 50 lbs, depending on size and if she is in milk.  If also getting hay,  a cow would get 11 lbs of silage per day.


Interesting notes:

One study used chicken poo in the silage for sheep and goats, by adding molasses to help the pickling process.    The poo increased nutritional value...

Duck weed (the green plant of tiny dot like leaves) that covers the surface of a pond or ditch water can be fed to chickens.


Edited by Kikiriki - 6/2/11 at 10:58am
I'm not a rooster, but I reserve the right to crow!   One husband who wants a rooster, one son who flew the coop, one lovely German Shepherd, one Kangal Dog, two young feed store Easter Eggers, two old Golden Comets
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I'm not a rooster, but I reserve the right to crow!   One husband who wants a rooster, one son who flew the coop, one lovely German Shepherd, one Kangal Dog, two young feed store Easter Eggers, two old Golden Comets
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post #2 of 15
Thread Starter 

Forgot to say that if the process is done correctly, the silage will keep for a year.  One site said it would keep for up to 5 years.  Makes sense since it creates a pickled vegetable...

Important factors are chopping the greens (yard clippings or other plant matter) into 3 inch bits, packing the greens when there is the right amount of moisture, compressing them well in the bag,  then ensuring there is no air in the bag.

Please read the articles for best instruction.


You can do this with bugs or fish, too, but it might attract scavengers.

I'm not a rooster, but I reserve the right to crow!   One husband who wants a rooster, one son who flew the coop, one lovely German Shepherd, one Kangal Dog, two young feed store Easter Eggers, two old Golden Comets
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I'm not a rooster, but I reserve the right to crow!   One husband who wants a rooster, one son who flew the coop, one lovely German Shepherd, one Kangal Dog, two young feed store Easter Eggers, two old Golden Comets
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post #3 of 15

Yes I researched this last winter and I got the basis from that very article and you should not feed chickens that because of botulism.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."

 

Romans 1:16 

 

Are you ashamed?

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"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."

 

Romans 1:16 

 

Are you ashamed?

Reply
post #4 of 15

We put up sorghum silage for our cow herd.  When I free-ranged my chickens they'd go scratch around in the edges of the silage pile, but they were looking for any grain and didn't really eat the silage itself.  That's the same thing that my free reange guineas do now.  On occasion I've thrown some into one of my chicken pens just to see if they'd eat it and they scratch around in it , but they don't eat it.

I'm a Farmer/Rancher  Wife,Mom & Grandma  No Farms, No food. 
If you want house chickens and ducks in diapers then this is the forum for you.
I've got 50+ years of poultry experience, but this 'poultry' forum isn't for me anymore.
If you're going to complain about farmers, don't do it with a full belly or a mouthful.
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I'm a Farmer/Rancher  Wife,Mom & Grandma  No Farms, No food. 
If you want house chickens and ducks in diapers then this is the forum for you.
I've got 50+ years of poultry experience, but this 'poultry' forum isn't for me anymore.
If you're going to complain about farmers, don't do it with a full belly or a mouthful.
Reply
post #5 of 15

I know nothing about silage...

But it seems it is based on grasses and such... which ruminants eat. Chickens aren't ruminants so?

Need egg candling reference pics? Click HERE!
2011 Coop build! Click Here!

 

I'm no expert, there is always something to learn, and my birds are livestock, so... yes, I may be quite blunt. wink.png

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Need egg candling reference pics? Click HERE!
2011 Coop build! Click Here!

 

I'm no expert, there is always something to learn, and my birds are livestock, so... yes, I may be quite blunt. wink.png

Reply
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

I saw nothing about botulism, and if it it done properly it seems it shouldn't spoil just like pickled veggies don't spoil.

The original article I linked to talks about it as a chicken food and it sounded really interesting, so I thought I'd share the info.  Chickenns are not ruminants, but they do eat grass and other plant matter.

It is interesting to see comments from someone who tried it.  Anyone else had experience?

I'm not a rooster, but I reserve the right to crow!   One husband who wants a rooster, one son who flew the coop, one lovely German Shepherd, one Kangal Dog, two young feed store Easter Eggers, two old Golden Comets
Reply
I'm not a rooster, but I reserve the right to crow!   One husband who wants a rooster, one son who flew the coop, one lovely German Shepherd, one Kangal Dog, two young feed store Easter Eggers, two old Golden Comets
Reply
post #7 of 15

Its a good article, thanks

post #8 of 15

I have made silage from lawn mower clippings and feed them to my chickens for the last two years.  They seem to enjoy it and it keeps there yolks nice and orange through the winter, and they seem to lay more when they are getting silage.  It can be a little time consuming to make it properly (i.e. putting the grass clippings in a bag, double bagging it, getting the air out of it, and tying it shut), but definatly well worth it.  I have found the trash compactor bags work the best for me (seem a little thicker, and are the right size for me).  I am not sure how much they eat per day, I drop it on the coop floor and they eat it/scratch through it.  I have read that if they eat too much silage it can make the yolks green, but I have never expereinced this and my chickens get all the silage they will eat.

post #9 of 15

Thank you so much for that brilliant link. smile

http://www.permachicken.com Permaculture chicken blog: raising chickens with fewer industrial inputs.

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http://www.permachicken.com Permaculture chicken blog: raising chickens with fewer industrial inputs.

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post #10 of 15

Fantastic thread. should we start an experiment?  who's in?

I have a pasture that was just baled. its very tempting.

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