Hot Days of Summer and Feed in Silos

March 26, 2024

Well, it’s that time of year again.

The hot, dry conditions mean that pasture nutritional value is out the window. The silage and hay making season was short, and many farmers are relying solely on their feed pellet to provide protein and other nutrients for their livestock.

Enter summer, with hot and humid days, which can lead to hang-up issues. This is the time of year when ensuring correct silo storage of your pellets is crucial.

What can I do about it?

There are several things that can be done to mitigate potential hang-ups in summer.

Whirly birds on silos: easy to install, these are far more efficient at dissipating heat than conventional “top-hat” or mushroom cap vents, as winds (we are all familiar with those roaring overnight easterlies) will effectively force air flow to draw heat out of the silo. Effective ventilation on a pellet silo is essential and should be the #1 priority.

Silo exposure to sun: the sides of the silo which have the most sun exposure will ‘superheat’ which can cause additional issues and lead to pellets sticking to that wall of the silo. Of course, a tree is a 10-year proposition and considering silo placement is something that is great in hindsight. However, a well placed shade-sail can be a very cost effective and simple solution. Any additional shade on the silo will help to avoid a build-up of heat.

Knocking down a hang-up:

If a hang-up does occur, knowing how to deal with it, in order to maintain access to your feed, is important. Below are a few suggestions on how to deal with hang-ups:

1.      Banging the silo on one side to drop feed caught is usually enough. Once the bridge of the hang-up on one side is broken, you will find the strength in the hold has gone and the rest will fall down on its own. If you don’t want hammer dents in your new (or old) silo, you can place a wooden block against the silo wall and tap that with the hammer, instead of making direct contact with the silo.

2.      Running the silo empty and cleaning it out completely. This is great practice regardless, as it provides the opportunity to clean out any old feed and reduces the risk of weevil and insect infestation. As we know, this is of particular importance during summer when grain insects thrive in the hot, humid conditions, and tend to explode in population. It is recommended to do this at least once at the beginning of summer, and once around May when temperatures settle down.

3.       Poking from the top. In extreme cases, a light piece of PVC or similar of sufficient length can be used to drop from above if there is a large amount of feed in the silo. This is particularly useful if there is a hole through the middle. Start by burying the PVC pipe into an area close to the centre where the hole is, then wobbling it around until it breaks through the hang-up to the silo base. Ideally, displacing the pellets between the hole in the middle and the PVC pipe will remove the bulk of the hang-up. Then move the PVC pipe a little further towards the silo wall and start again. Once you’ve broken through enough, the whole lot will fall in on itself and come down. Extreme caution and safety equipment should be used in this scenario.

4.      Dropping from the base. This can ONLY be done if the hatch is clear and generally results in a huge mess, so it is not recommended in normal cases. However, it is extremely useful when giving a proper, bi-annual cleanout for weevil control and general silo health checks – and is best done when the silo is virtually empty!

5.      Call Jonno - who is always ready to help. With years of experience in feed milling, Milne Beef and Dairy Sales Manager, Jonathan Langan, is always happy to offer advice on storing pellets.