Hugh Wood made the decision to install a Bock clamp in 2012 and has been reaping the rewards of reduced silage wastage ever since.
With 125 head of beef sucklers to feed through the winter housing period, quality and efficiency is crucial.
Like many beef producers, he had always had a traditional approach to clamping and used a covered earth bank to make his silage for many years.
“The last time we rebuilt our clamp fully was in 1972 but it was always in need of repair and it was not the easiest to keep the sides clean,” he said.
The concept of Bock’s sloping-wall design is that it allows maximum compaction because machines can drive right up to the edge of the clamp to roll the shoulders. On a straight-sided clamp with concrete panel walls, this can be difficult and dangerous.
“Once I had seen the concept and that the silage could be rolled right the way over to the shoulders of the clamp I was sold.”
Bock UK supplied the concrete panels to make up the 30m by 17m. Soil from the walls of the previous clamp was used to create an earth bund against which the panels were secured and a fresh concrete floor was laid. The whole clamp took four weeks to build and was covered with a double-layer silage sheet.
Hugh said: “A month or so after the clamp was put up and filled with a forage mix from our farm came the moment of truth – we opened the clamp and it was easy to see the real benefits. There was no waste at all. The sloping sides had made the silage and I believe that’s due to the easier rolling.
“We used a JCB 310s and our biggest tractor to roll it and the compaction was right up against the wall.”
Each year Hugh tests his silage to check the dry matter digestibility, dry matter, protein, metabolisable energy and pH levels.
“There’s been a massive improvement with the quality of the silage compared to the results we got with the earth clamp,” he said, “and the losses are significantly reduced.”
- Dairy farm
- 200 cows
- 1 bay
- Grass silage only
- 30m long x 10m wide x 3m high