Tower silos may be the new bunker
By Brandy Harrison
KEMPTVILLE Change is in the air as farmers are giving tower silos a second look, says Ottawa Valley Harvestores general manager in Kemptville.
“More and more people are calling,” says Henk Huizenga, whos been fielding calls every week or two from curious farmers armed with questions.
Theres been an uptick in sales the last three or four years, he says. There are about 250 farms in Eastern Ontario with Harvestore blue in the yard. Corn silage units, which can also store BMR corn, have been popular recently.
Not long ago, the tide had turned the other way with farmers, especially those with larger herds, switching to bunkers. Theyre back and Huizenga thinks he knows why.
He says recent research shows the advantages of Harvestores fill-from-the-top and feed-from-the-bottom system, which ensures cows get fermented feed year-round, skipping the production drop that can go along with too-fresh feed.
A study by the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center in 2005 and 2006 showed that dry matter loss in haylage was only 4.3 per cent compared to 11.3 per cent for bags and 16.9 per cent for bunkers. Milk production also got a boost, with cows fed alfalfa from a Harvestore producing 91.9 lb. of fat-corrected milk per head per day versus 86.2 lb. for bunkers and 86 lb. for bags.
Technology has also improved, says Huizenga. Taller, wider Harvestore models can hold up to 1,100 tonnes and XL Unloaders can unload as fast as a bunker, allowing tower silos to work for larger herds. Running the system on electric motors is also an energy saving over the fuel used by a tractor-and-bunker system, says Huizenga.
Farmers keen on more automated feeding are also driving sales, he says. Theres no more climbing, and everything can be done at the push of a button, he says. “They dont want to have to get that tractor started in the cold of winter.”