Chopping Time


Silage chopping is underway! Chopping is the busiest and most important season for our dairy. I wrote about chopping rye this spring, but that task pales in comparison with this one. This time we’re chopping corn.

View from the chopper.

I’ve said before that corn silage is a big part of our cows diet. Chopping cuts up the whole corn plant – stalk, leaves, cobs (with or without grain) and all. Our silage is then packed and covered in pit silos. The end product is very efficient feed for our cows.

We only get one opportunity to chop corn silage each year, and the plants are only at the right moisture for a short time. We do stagger our planting to extend our window to finish, but it’s still a high stress time involving very long days.

Cleaning out the silo before filling it.

Typically we chop around 80% of our corn in late August or early September. Because we’re in a drought, the corn didn’t get as tall and has started to dry out faster. That means there will be less grain (quality) and less tonnage (quantity) than an average year. It also means we’re chopping in July for the first time in David’s memory, and we plan to chop 100% of our planted acres.

We ran out of corn silage about a month ago, so chopping early isn’t all bad. It was hectic trying to get the chopper, trucks, and dump box ready, though.  Also, I should note that I’m using “we” pretty loosely.  I’ve been working in Wichita and have contributed little other than moral support to the chopping effort.

Packing silage from above with the skid loader.

David’s cousin Jeff has been a huge help, running the chopper so David can get milking and chores done. Jeff also recruited his dad and other neighbors to help out driving trucks back and forth from the field to the pit silo. This also allows Dave to spend some time packing the silage – an essential part of the process.  David’s dad and our employee, Tyler, have also been logging extra hours.

Having a person to do each task (chopping, hauling, and packing) has made chopping significantly more efficient. We still have at least a week to go – we’ll keep you posted on our progress.  In the meantime, prayers for safety and sanity are appreciated!

Silo partially filled.

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