Building A Family Legacy
with consistent feed, and an environmentally friendly, efficient farm operation.
Planning Now for a Future Efficient Farm Operation
It’s not often that you meet truly inspirational people, but on one scorching, 98-degree afternoon in June it happened to this writer. My assignment was to travel about 50 miles from my home to Gladys, Virginia to interview Myron Yoder. He had just purchased a Harvestore silo and was having Greenwood Silo refurbish and install it on his family’s dairy farm.
“I spoke with a friend who is an agricultural nutritionist, and he convinced me that a restored Harvestore Silo was best for our needs. After much research, I knew I had to reach out to the Harvestore specialist, Marvin Reiff.” – Myron Yoder
Myron recently sold his large sawmill operation that he started from the ground up. While this may seem like an ordinary business feat, it wasn’t for Myron Yoder. The most surprising aspect of this story is that Myron was born with a congenital disorder in his eyes and he could never see very well. His condition got progressively worse and at the age of 21, he was completely blind. Two of Myron’s sons and one daughter also suffer from the same congenital disorder.
Donning a cowboy hat and work clothes, Myron is a young man with a commanding physical presence. He was joined by his three rambunctious boys, ranging from age 8 to 11 years old. I was struck by how patient and gentle he was with them.
I began the interview by asking what led him to decide to sell his prosperous business and begin farming. Myron shared that his childhood dream came true when the farm he was raised on came up for sale, and he was able to purchase it. He reflected on that time in his youth, growing up milking cows as a young boy with his parents on a farm, and that he wants the same lifestyle for his own family.
This family dream led to Myron’s decision to sell his sawmill. He felt like he put his all into getting his sawmill business up and running and didn’t have a lot of extra time for his children when they were little. He wants to spend the rest of his career alongside his growing boys.
Starting a sawmill business from the ground up and implementing and investing in modern PLC controlled equipment, Myron saw firsthand how automation can impact a business. When he purchased the farm it came with a fairly new bunker silo setup. However, Myron mentioned he had no plans to use it for feed storage. He didn’t have the physical ability for the inefficient bunker silos. He also wasn’t inclined to use the plastic method of storing feed due to its common problems of spoilage, poor feed quality, and toxic runoff.
Marvin explained how much dry matter is lost when a proper storage system isn’t in place. It simply doesn’t make financial sense to go through all the effort of buying farmland, raising a crop, processing the crop, and putting it into storage, just to lose up to or more than 17% while in storage.
Myron has 60 Jersey dairy cows coming in the spring who need careful nutrition. With Greenwood Silo’s refurbished Harvestores, they’re coming to the right place. The feed from a properly built and maintained bottom unloading sealed silo system will produce a low fermentation and higher sugar feed with less dry matter loss. There’s the added bonus of being equipped with the technology to feed the cows at a push of a button, taking full advantage of the first in, first out inventory system.
— By Reed Dillon
“You get the best feed from an upright silo system. The plastic bag or bunker systems are just a mess, and I don’t want to deal with that. I wanted something that was neat and clean.”
The farm sign out by the road reveals Myron’s mission statement:
Haven Woods Farm
“Growing crops, livestock and boys”
Planning and Modernizing for the Next Generation
The Next Generation Vertical Storage is in the Small Details That Add Straight Up.
The process all started with Myron picking up the phone and giving us a call. Myron is planning on grazing his cows. So, you might wonder, why the sealed bottom unloading silo? Actually, the sealed bottom unloading silo will be a great management tool for his professional grazing operation.
While it’s good for cows’ physical and mental health to get outside and exercise and eat fresh grass, some days it isn’t the best thing for the cows or for your land.
- It gets dry, and the grass quits growing. And if they eat it too close to the ground it stunts the regrowth of forages that cows desperately need.
- When it gets wet the cows can do more damage to your forage crop than what they eat.
- When it gets cold and the snow flies, there is no more green grass to eat.
- When it’s hot outside, the cow doesn’t feel like going out and getting her own feed. She would rather stay in the shade and in front of a fan.
- A grazing cow has a hard time getting enough dry matter into her system because unwilted grass is 80% water. A finely chopped haylage at low moisture of 30% to 45% will enable a cow to get more dry matter into her system.
- If everything is perfect and your grazing cows do not need any supplementary feed, you can keep the door closed on the sealed bottom unloading silo. The ideal grazing conditions won’t last forever.
- If you only graze your cows, you can’t harvest your crop when it’s at its optimum maturity. The crop is either too young or getting too old.
“Myron has been an inspiration to me. I was amazed that he doesn’t let his blindness keep him from seeing. He is a great visionary and has the ability to see things in his mind. I am sure Myron will be successful in his new endeavor.”
And if you harvest all your crops, here is why both grazers and non-grazers need our properly built and maintained sealed bottom unloading silo.
A silo full of good forages is like having money in the bank. However, extra feed in the back of a bunker or in the bottom of a top unloading silo ages during the year and loses its value. A bottom unloading silo removes your oldest inventory first while the new crop enters into a low fermentation process.
- When properly built and maintained, a sealed bottom unloading silo produces a very low fermentation process. Much like a low moisture bailage, 30% to 45%, this maintains most of the harvested crop’s sugars and it also has a very small drop in the PH.
- While most experts in the feed consultant world promote processing your forage at moistures from 55% to 70% so it properly ferments. Marvin disagrees. He has seen and observed what can come out of a sealed bottom unloading silo when properly built and maintained.
- Greenwood Silo’s customers observed that if they feed wetter forages, their cows urinate more. They’ve observed that cows drink more water with lower moisture forages. Marvin’s expert opinion is that excess moisture in the forages is why there’s a big drop in PH. The nutrients that were in the crop are now too acidic for the cow and her organs need to dump it to keep her body PH balanced.
- A finely chopped forage at low moisture of 30% to 45% will enable a cow to get more dry matter into her system than a longer crop, like bailage. Feed consultants push for longer particle sizes in chopped forages because it is too wet, and they need to add straw and other roughage to create a floating mat in the cow’s rumen. A cow’s rumen works like a compost pile. You don’t want a slop. Instead, you need a fluffy light pile so the microbes can move around.
- Feed consultants also push for a longer particle size because the wet feed will drop the PH too low for the cow and the long particles in the forages force the cow to chew more. This helps the cow to create up to 15 gallons of saliva, which helps bring the PH back up.
Moisture is key. Your type of storage is next.
- Let’s use an individually wrapped bale of bailage to draw an example because it’s the closest thing that compares with a sealed silo. The forage stays sealed until just before you feed it. There’s no open face exposed to oxygen.
- A bale at 35% moisture has a very pleasant, sweet smell, and the forage looks about the same color as when it was baled. It retains most of its sugar and has a low drop of PH. The bale will maintain a very firm form just like when it was baled and wrapped.
- A bale at 65% moisture smells pungent, the forage color is darkened, and the sugar drops considerably, causing a significant drop in PH. When this happens, you’ll notice the bale loses its firmness. (The results: loss of sugar, drop in PH, and dry matter loss.)
- You have the same process and could say the 65% moisture bailage should be better because it wasn’t laying cut down in the field as long before it was baled.
- So, if you look at this example above, it doesn’t matter what you do. If you put your forages away wet, you will get an excessive amount of dry matter loss. It doesn’t matter how hard you pack your bunker or bag. This might come from the oxygen that is in the plant when it is alive and is now trapped inside the forages.
What you see above, is proof of dry matter and energy loss. The sugars in your forages are a very good source of energy for your cows. You don’t want to sacrifice these sugars.
I have bad news for you and will try to break this to you as gently as possible. To keep these high dry matter, high sugar, higher PH forages from spoiling or molding it cannot be exposed to oxygen. It’s a live food that is great for your cows. Please don’t process your forages to dry if you don’t have a properly built and maintained sealed bottom unloading silo. It’s better to have well-fermented forage that is acidic and low in sugar because it is more stable in storage. It’s better to process your forages wetter than dealing with mold so you can bring the PH back up in the diet with calcium and other buffers. If you don’t, you’ll lose dry matter and sugars and created an environmental issue with a very acidic leakage that is 10 times more potent than raw human sewage.
We have the solution for you to process and store your forages at the optimum moisture to retain the max amount of energy for your animals.
Believe it or not, there are even more reasons for drier forages:
- Did you know that you can store more dry matter in a silo if it is chopped very fine and dry than wet feed?
- Greenwood Silo has a customer who has a forage cart that has a scale. He thought he could use the scale to tell him what the moisture of the feed was and the wetter the more weight. Right? It wasn’t holding out that way. As it got dryer it wasn’t getting significantly lighter. So, why not?
- If you are bailing hay, as the hay gets dryer you can tighten the bale press because you cannot compress water, but you can compress dry feed.
- Does it make sense then to process a forage that is 70% moisture, transport it across your fields creating compaction, have more weight to haul down the road, and take up more space to store because 70% of water takes a lot of space. The other problem is what happens with the nutrients in that moisture. They undergo a fermentation process that will render them useless to your animal.
- High unloader maintenance cost is avoidable. Unloader maintenance skyrockets with wetter feed in a bottom unloader because there is more weight on top of the unloader. This reduces the capacity, which increases run time, wear, and cost. Consider this example of two customers. They both purchased a newly refurbished Greenline Unloader at the same time. Three-and-a-half years later, the first one had $1,900 in service and maintenance and the second had $17,500. The difference was that the first customer was putting his haylage up at around 48% and no innogalant. The second was putting his haylage up at 60% and also using an innogalant, which helps drive the PH lower.
- The major issue is the acid. Consider how acid from wet feed burns your skin, especially if you have a small cut or abrasion. If you have wet feed in a bottom unloading silo, every time you start the unloader it gets rubbed down with a fresh layer of acid. If the unloader gets a scale of rust, it will help slow down the process, but the acids from the feed will continue rubbing it off. That acid seeps in between the bushing and links of the chains. The drier feed acts like a lubricant, potentially from the sugars or starch.
By now your head might be spinning from this unique twist. Marvin and his team are continually learning about ways to improve PH and the health of stored silage and haylage. Today, they’ve already uncovered the small details that add straight up.
Marvin completely understands if you appreciate the information, but think you don’t have the finances to invest in a sealed bottom unloading silo. Back in 2006 when he started Greenwood Silo, he also thought Harvestores were too expensive. Now, it’s what they sell most.
Yes, there are even more good reasons to invest in a properly built and maintained sealed bottom unloading silo.
An electric motor will run a lot cheaper than a diesel-powered loader:
- You don’t have to go out in the weather to get your feed.
- There’s no plastic to buy and dispose of.
- Almost anyone can push a button to feed, but not everyone can run a loader. Your feed is a lot safer to access in a vertical sealed bottom unloading silo.
- When your cows go outside, you don’t have to worry that they will run up the plastic on your bunker or drive-over pile.
- You don’t need a lagoon to capture the leakage or deal with the extra cost to spread the water and leakage. And that leakage isn’t healthy for the next crop you raise.
- The rodents and birds can’t get up to the face of the bunker, pile or bags and eat the grain from your forages, or dirty it before they leave.
- It’s faster and takes less manpower to fill a silo with a Field Line Blower, than using a tractor to run a bagger or a pack tractor to pack the pile.
- When you blow a load of forages into the silo the prior load is covered and packed.
- If it starts to rain before you get done with your forage crop, you close the silo and keep feeding out of the bottom. But there’s no bagger sitting on a half-filled bag, no unloader on top of the silo, and the bunker is half-filled and uncovered. Now the rainstorm has dumped a few inches of oxygen-rich water on top of your uncovered pile or bunker.
Our Passion is helping our customers with innovative storage solutions.
Some of the products and services we’ve developed:
- Tapered and beveled stainless steel trough design that improves the capacity of the unloader. This reduces both the time and cost to feed your cows.
- Greenline Unloaders. We build newly refurbished Greenline Unloaders with VFD drive controls. D Series for forages and B series for grain.
- Greenline D and B series VFD drives can be installed on other forage and grain unloaders.
- Heavy-duty ¾” floor plates with a tapered rear edge. The original plates are ¼” thick and over time need to be replaced.
- Fiberglass Composite Roofs for 20 ft. Harvestore. The roofs are the first thing that will rust out on a Harvestore structure, and we wanted a roof that will last.
- GreenAlert. A simple solution that alerts you when the silo is almost full.
- Stainless steel side-fill system eliminates the need to climb a silo to get ready to fill.
- Stainless steel quick access door frame system enables us to use a skid loader powered digger to dig into the cavity quickly and efficiently in case of an unloader breakdown.
- Skid loader mounted digger minimizes the stress and downtime of dig outs.
- Stainless steel door frames used for replacement and used in our refurbished Harvestore silos.
- TS Sealer used in our rebuild refurbished Harvestore silos.
- Grade 8 bolts, Made in the USA, are used to rebuild our refurbished Harvestore silos.
- Heavy-duty breather bags.
- Fieldline Blowers, which are the best blowers on the market.
- Top delivery Co2 Kit is used to inject Co2 into the top of the silo immediately after refilling the silo. This expels the oxygen out of the headspace above the feed and immediately covers the new crop of forage with Co2 gas.
- Spray foaming the inside of the roof and top 5-to-10 ft. As the sun shines on a Harvestore silo, it transfers heat into the silo. The heat rises to the roof which causes it to condensate and drips down on the feed. The insulation reduces the condensation and can also be used to prolong the life of an older steel roof that is starting to rust.
- Other services we provide: Base pumping, pressure checking, vacuum checking, epoxy floors, silo extensions, roof replacements, newly refurbished Harvestore silos, and silo and unloader maintenance.