May 31 2021 08:00 AM

Sponsored content provided by Meghan Gebhardt, Silostop

Labor and raw material shortages are causing chaos across global supply chains. Freight lines are in desperate need of truckers. Costs for steel, lumber, and plastic/petrochemicals are all at all-time highs. Commodity prices have increased and even basic dairy chemicals are nearly impossible to find.

As dairy farmers, you know that you are not insulated from world events. The reverberations are felt in feed costs, silage plastic shortages, and elsewhere. The long term effects of the pandemic may clear up eventually, but this year especially it behooves you to order your silage plastic early and minimize feed spoilage through careful management.

In the short term, one way to minimize costs is to try a one-step oxygen barrier plastic. Silostop’s Max Plus is a 5 mil thick black on white plastic that prevents oxygen ingress and is tough enough to be walked on or handle tires/gravelbags. By purchasing a one-step product, you are saving money on labor and plastic. There’s only one piece of plastic to put on the bunker or pile, rather than the two-step system involving an underlay and cover sheet. Silostop has offered a one-step plastic for years now, and it’s an excellent choice to limit spoilage on the pile.

Long term, the best way to insulate yourself from rising prices in the plastic industry is to use only a thin oxygen barrier underlayer, like Silostop’s original Orange 1.8 mil plastic, covered by a tough reusable Anti-UV Net. This way you only need to source the least expensive part of the equation each season, and you already have the external protection system to reuse for 7 t0 10 years, if stored properly. You would reduce your plastic usage by over 60%, and the costs with it.

Silostop’s reusable covers are made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which can be used for many years and folded up and stored while not on the silo. Producers will need to use an oxygen barrier film, such as Silostop, under the covers as they are designed to allow air to go through them, which keeps them from flapping around in the wind.

Feed losses should be limited or eliminated this year of all years. With costs up and labor tight, there’s no sense in growing, harvesting, and ensiling just to have 10-20% or more of your feed waste away. Be sure to pack with heavy weight on the pile and cover promptly. Use gravel bags or tires along the sides and overlaps, and check your plastic during the year to patch any holes or tears.

By ordering sooner rather than later, you’ll avoid the worst of the price increases this year. By opting for a reusable cover, you’ll insulate yourself against future shortages. You will increase the sustainability factor on your farm. And most importantly, by using an oxygen barrier film, you’ll see incredible dry matter (DM) loss reduction in your silage. At a time when feed costs are high and milk prices are tight, every penny matters.