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Animal Sciences and Industry

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“Silage Harvest is Underway; Be Safe”

by Justin W. Waggoner, beef systems specialist

One of the busiest, most fast paced operations that occur this time of year is silage harvest. Cutters and choppers in the fields, trucks racing from the field to the pile or bunker, multiple tractors pushing and packing silage. The speed at which we can harvest silage today is amazing, but we should never allow the speed at which one can accomplish a task to compromise safety. Below are a few things to think about during this year’s silage harvest.

  • Don’t become complacent. Stay aware of the surroundings. Let’s face it there are a lot of highly repetitive operations in putting up silage. One of the No. 1 factors that lead up to an accident is almost always complacency or lack of situational awareness.
  • Truck drivers should always slow down when approaching houses and intersections on all roads, every time. Those houses along the road belong to our neighbors and friends, some of which have children. The increased traffic on gravel roads creates dust, and the crops are tall, both of which reduce visibility at intersections. Our neighbors should not fear going to their mailbox due to our silage trucks.
  • People (especially children) should never be allowed near a drive over pile or bunker silo during fill ing. If people have to approach the area, get on the radio  to inform the drivers/operators. Those on the ground in the area should always wear a bright-colored-orange safety vest.
  • Never fill higher than the top of the bunker wall. This happens more than it should and creates a dangerous situation from the day the silage is packed until it is removed. The pack tractor cannot see the edge of the bunker well if at all. The silage does not get packed well (which leads to poor silage) and the edge of the silage is unstable and more likely to collapse. Don’t do it.
  • Be aware of steep slopes. To reduce the risk of tractor roll-over, a minimum slope of 1 in 3 on the sides and end of piles should be maintained.
  • Never inspect or make repairs to equipment near the bunker or pile. Equipment should be removed from the area as soon as possible. Repairs almost always involve people on foot and potentially people who may not be familiar with silage activities and the associated risks.



September Beef Tips Now Published

Be sure to check out the new issue of Beef Tips.


Do you graze or hay annual forages? We need your help!
We want to hear about your experiences feeding or grazing high nitrate feedstuffs. Many annual forages /cover crops are known to accumulate nitrate in dry or cool conditions (such as during late fall or early spring). Our goal is to understand how often producers run into nitrate issues when using these forages so that we can help cattle producers through applicable research and extension programming. Fresh and dry forages act differently in the rumen, and the incidence of nitrate toxicity may reflect these differences in grazed verses hayed forages. The short survey (estimated time to answer these questions is 5 minutes) will be used to direct future research and extension programing.

Please complete this short survey: Annual Forage Nitrate Survey

This survey is a collaboration of the University of Nebraska and Kansas State Extension. Your answers will remain anonymous and confidential. We know your time is valuable and appreciate your help.

Jaymelynn Farney, Beef Systems Specialist, Kansas State University
Mary Drewnoski, Beef Systems Specialist, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Mary Beth Lentz, Graduate Student, University of Nebraska-Lincoln



Focus Areas

The K-State beef extension team strives to address all phases of beef production from "farm to fork".