Talk It Up Out There!


The ball comes off the bat flying high in the crease between center and right field. The runner on third braces for the 90-foot dash. The ball sails, sails, sails; centerfielder and right have a bead on it. It starts its downward progression, both men running toward it. The crowd gasps, and in the last second they both back off and the ball drops between them. Run scores.

Frustration ensues.

“Come on! You’re professionals! Talk it up out there!”

Choppers are running, trucks hauling, blade and pack tractors crawling: forward – reverse – forward – reverse, never leaving the pile. The cut is right, the processor is pulverizing, the inoculant is infused into the feed at the chopper – it’s all moving along at the pace you prescribed. Then the pack tractors drive off, their work finished. Next?

Where’s the sealing (covering) contractor? Did anybody call them? When’s he supposed to be here? Where in the heck are they?

It’s a dropped ball. Frustration ensues.

How do we avoid this? It can happen with the sealing contractor, the chopper, the pack driver; with anyone and everyone involved!

Talk it up! During these high stress times, you can’t communicate too much.
If you haven’t already done so, see if your chopper, sealer and nutritionist can meet together for a 20 minute meeting to decide who is doing what, who is talking to who at every stage of harvest. Use this printable planner as your agenda.

Print this card, cut it apart and fill in the phone numbers and names of everyone in the process.
Corn looks like its ready in a couple days? Call your chopper.
Chopper starting in the field? Call the sealing contractor – estimate how many tons and about what day they need to be ready, then confirm as time gets closer.
All of us are busy. Do not call someone to come at 1 pm when you really won’t need them until 3 pm. They’ll probably leave, and rightly so!

Talk it up out there! Make this season go smooth for all. You’ll get happier people, better feed and more productive cows.

Run scores!

Posted in making ensiled forages, pack tractors, silage harvest, packing density, silage inoculant | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Keeping the table full

I recall a conversation I had with a hay grower at the 2011 World Ag Expo. This gentleman and his wife traveled from New Mexico, award winners in the Lallemand/Biotal-sponsored Forage Contest. He obviously knew what he was doing with alfalfa growing, but a few interesting minutes into our conversation I found out he was an expert at something else too.

Fatalities on dairy farms are never easy to swallow, and the serious injures that occur are frightening. Either way, people – real people like you and me – end up living their lives with a daily reminder. A limp, a scar, chronic pain, fear, and at worst, the emptiness of a chair at the family table.

Silage piles are necessary, but they must be made safely, sampled safely, managed safely. Physics prove that the denser piles are packed, the less likely they are to avalanche. There are precautions that should be taken – even on the best density piles.

We have just re-published a Hoard’s Dairyman article by the foremost pair of silage safety experts in the U.S. (click here) describing prevention practices you can use. The Bolsens tirelessly reach out, providing silage safety information. Silage safety should be first on your list, because if you make and manage piles to be safe, your silage is very likely to be quality feed, and chances are good you’ll have more of it. Safe silage and great silage go hand in hand.

And the New Mexico hay grower? He is also a fireman. “When we get a call about a silage pile, more often than not it’s a call for a rescue; but before we get there, status changes to a recovery.”

An empty chair at the family table.

Posted in making ensiled forages, Sharing farming's story, silage face management, silage safety | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

A-HAH Moments (Repost – worth a second read)

Note: This was originally posted in May of last year. But the message from Dr. Kung is timeless. Scenario 4 below is the only clear path to high quality silage and plenty of it.  Here’s how to use good bugs to get there. Please poke around the topic list at right for other helpful silage harvesting information. 

Don’t you just love it when someone says something that you’ve heard before and you may already believe – but they say it in such a way it makes you think: “A-HAH!  I never thought about it that way!”


A delicious tri-tip and BBQ chicken lunch – a terrific speaker – and an engaged audience made for a great day!

Last week Dr. Limin Kung traveled to California and was kind enough to speak at a Monday evening dinner meeting and a Tuesday lunch gathering for us, providing one A-HAH moment after another. If you missed it, here is a brief synopsis of his major points, although I am sure you would have loved his delivery. He is not who you would expect as a forage speaker. He’s Hawaiian, did not grow up on a farm, found out cows were cool in a random dairy class he took in college, and has been researching, teaching and mentoring in the silage world ever since. And he has a great laugh.

Don’t miss him next time.

Biggest point:

There are four scenarios that can and will happen with your forage harvest.

1. Poor quality forage at harvest + Poor silage management = Poor quality silage at feed out

2. Poor quality forage at harvest + Excellent silage management = Poor quality silage at feed out

3. High quality forage at harvest + Poor silage management = Poor quality silage at feed out

4. High quality forage at harvest + Excellent silage management = High quality silage at feed out

Scenario 4 is the only way. It’s a very simple yet, as Dr. Kung said, we know that all the stars do not always align, perfection is not always possible. But do take charge and do your best.


It’s a long year. Don’t be sorry for most of it.

Think about it this way – the time you spend for the 2, 3, or 4 weeks of harvest per year controls what you feed out the other 48, 49 or 50 weeks of the year.

Other points to ponder:

The primary factor affecting forage quality? Stage of maturity at harvest, because it affects digestibility. Making forage into silage preserves the maximum amount of nutrients, so long as the fermentation is timed correctly (rapid). You should be recovering all your inputs (seed, water, labor, land) with the final product (high value forage).

What are homolactic, heterolactic, and combination inoculants? In general, homolactic bacteria work in the front end of fermentation and heterolactic work to decrease mold and yeast at feed out. Of course, combinations do both.  Through research studies, he dispelled the myth about L. Buchneri 40788 (a heterolactic bacteria) causing cows to turn up their noses to silage.

Should you be using inoculant? If you are just because it is cheap, don’t bother. If you haven’t got your silage management techniques down, don’t bother. But if you are ready, use the best stuff you can find, and ask the people selling it to you to provide research that shows theirs is the best. Look at the package, how many “bugs” do you get for the buck?


How application affects inoculant distribution. From left untreated silage, silage inoculated with the shower method, and by sprayer at the chopper. The red line across denotes even distribution.

How should I apply inoculant? This photo says it all. If you’re going to put it on, do it at the chopper, and check application rates often.

Also, do not use hot water to mix inoculant, and follow the instructions on the label for how hot it can be before all those bugs you paid for die. Dead bugs don’t do anything for you no matter how well distributed they are. 

The best inoculants are not cheap.  Sure, you get one big bill for inoculant all at one time. But take that dollar amount, divide it by the number of cows you feed, and the days in the year, and compare that cost per day to some of your other per cow per day costs. You will be surprised.

The Tuesday crowd was also lucky to hear from Dr. Keith Bolsen who gave some brief reminders on silage management. We are so pleased that he and Dr. Kung could share their knowledge with our clients. If you have questions, please contact us and we will get answers for you.

If you’re ready, please contact us for information on the Biotal forage treatment products. We’d love to show you how many good bugs are ready to help make this your best forage year ever.

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5 – 3 = 9 (Yes, it’s possible)

math+ science = success

Art Courtesy of Carnegie Science Center

5 – 3 = 9

Simple, first grade math.

At first glance, it looks wrong. But is there ever a situation where taking away a certain amount can add up to more?

Yes, there is. 

“By taking a small amount of land out of production in order to increase the footprint for a second drive-over pile, dairy producers will actually have more corn silage to feed than if they continue to grow corn on it.”

The quote above belongs to Dr. Keith Bolsen, and it is the basis for a Progressive Forage, July, 2014 article that gives two case examples of how not planting a crop, and using that acreage to make room for a second drive over pile actually results in more feed. When put up right, inoculated with appropriate Biotal product and covered with Silostop, a drive over pile delivers better feed (higher nutritional quality – not just less visible mold) and more of it.

Obviously, this year’s corn has already been planted, fertilized, irrigated, cultivated, and some is already made into silage. Taking the lessons from the article, is there anywhere in your feed area or the area adjacent to it that you can clear out – recycle some old machinery, clear out weeds, blade off a base – and take advantage of the feed quantity, quality, and safety attributes of well-packed drive over piles?

We can help you plan for a second drive over pile, and show you an estimate of the square footage needed and the feed quantity benefits you can reap. 

We are here to help, call us.

Ron Kuber 559-779-5961     Eddie Mello 209-261-2829     Joe Martin 916-806-0802

Please also visit our website at for helpful planning guides, pile sizing worksheets, and pack tractor estimators. Go to for Biotal inoculant information.


Posted in making ensiled forages, pack tractors, silage harvest, packing density, silage safety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Silage success! You’re just ten steps away…

…from your best corn silage harvest ever.                IMG_7596

Water is tight in the west, there’s gallons of it in the midwest and east, and lots of hungry cows from here to there. Margins demand you keep costs down, and  (don’t you get tired of hearing this?) be more efficient.

The good news is that there are ways to do just that, and that knowledge is power. A few years ago we came up with a checklist to take you from pre-harvest through putting that last gravel bag or tire on your bunker or silage pile.

1. Insist on safety. Send your people home safely to their families. SAFE SILAGE = PROFITABLE SILAGE!

2. Evaluate last year’s forage, identify opportunities to do better.

3. Meet with your nutritionist or advisor.

  • Estimate tonnage per field – this helps in ordering inoculant, covering, estimating fill rates, packing equipment needed, personnel.
  • Order fields by probable maturity and dry matter.
  • Decide target moisture content, chop length, processing, packing density goals, inoculants and covering.
  • Tour the storage area, decide on pile/bunker area sizes. Figure how to use land for drive over piles. Get rid of old equipment and weeds to make room.

4. If you hire it out, meet with chopping and/or  covering contractors to discuss harvest timing, inoculant procedure,  fill rate expectations, extra equipment needed especially for packing. If you chop and/or cover yourself, meet with the crew and discuss the same.

5. Prepare equipment, pads, tires or gravel bags.

6. Order inoculant and pile or bunker covering.

7. Host a safety meeting for all employees, warn neighbors of trucks and increased traffic.

8. Monitor dry matter, adjust field order and inoculant choice as needed.

9. Seal piles as soon as possible, leaving enough skirt in the covering to seal the edges with gravel bags.

10. Practice safe, smart face management after opening the pile.

More to come!

Of course, this is a simple plan and you will have questions! Please call us at 559-779-5961 or email for a more personalized plan. Ron, Joe and Eddie, backed by Dr. Keith Bolsen and other silage scientists, are happy to help.


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Weddings and Silage : The Pursuit of Perfection

One of our favorite movies around here is the 1991 version of “Father of the Bride”. We can recite most scenes with little prompt. Several have come to mind lately, as we prepare and plan for our daughter Catharine’s wedding to Kyle, a Husker whose roots are in western Nebraska crops and cattle. So many things to decide! Shall we serve the “chipper chicken” or the tri tip? Both! “Naaaaaavy” blue will make an appearance, but not on Ron’s back. As we solve distressing situations, like totally wrong bridesmaid dresses, I hear Fronck’s voice float in my head  – “It’s nuuo prouublem!”  I love Martin Short.


“It vill be nuuo prouublem! KAPEEKA!

In planning this wedding, we have made a number of choices, keeping in mind possible weather, the number of guests, and the bride and groom’s preferences. We’ve done all that we can to ensure that the day will be: perfect.

So what’s that got to do with silage? If you have ever been involved in event planning, you know as well as I do that something will not turn out quite as planned. But since we can’t know what that is, we do the best we can to avert “prouublems” and select options that have the highest success probability.

Same goes for a silage harvest. You’d like it to be still, 80 degrees, sunny, on time, inoculated right, packed tight, covered just so and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Feelin’ Groovy” on the radio. But something might be off: it’s windy, 90 or 100 degrees, maybe rainy, three days late in the field, hot inoculant, pack tractor broken or driver unavailable, cover not done on time, an emergency root canal on THE day of. It’s happened.

If even one factor is not ideal – will the products you use minimize the loss you may inevitably incur? Other products may be “good enough” under perfect conditions. But will “good enough”  –  truly protect your crop when something goes haywire? 

We may be amateurs at wedding planning, but the products we represent and the resource people that work with us at Connor Marketing are top notch professionals.


How much air is getting to your silage? Independent and university research show Silostop allows the least amount of oxygen into your pile. Silostop is up to 60 times more effective at protecting silage from oxygen than standard plastic covers.

Silostop® Orange Oxygen Barrier is proven to be the absolute best silage sealing product you can buy.

Biotal® silage inoculants are products of solid, dependable and documented research and development.

Bringing new science to you is our goal, and we strive to be the best at it along with superior customer service. Our resource people are willing and able to answer your questions and help you find solutions to whatever silage situation blows your way.

Please take a look through our past articles on planning harvest, pile size and density recommendations, safety issues, inoculants and covering. Topics are listed near the top of this page on the right. Click on the word or phrase that describes your interest and pertinent articles will show up. Use the best available products, plan the harvest, do the right things, and you too will have the best chance of having “nuo prouublems”! Please call or contact us through email. Lucky for you, “Fronck” is on sabbatical, so we’ll put you in touch with someone who knows silage much better than bridal decor.

The wedding? It will be beautiful and simple, with wonderful people coming to witness it in the church Catharine grew up in, and afterwards we will dine, drink and dance to music like “Old Time Rock N Roll”,  “Shout!”, and “Timber”. We’ve prepared for hot weather, cold weather, rain, and wind. Thankfully it will all be captured on film to help us remember it when we get really old. Or the week afterwards, whichever comes first.

Most importantly, two special people that we love will unite in marriage.

That, alone, will make the day: perfect.


Posted in making ensiled forages, silage harvest, packing density, silage inoculant, Silostop, winter forage | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Did I really do that? Or was it just a dream?

As the corner turns from spring forage harvests to fall preparation, communication just cannot be stressed enough. Because the dairy producer feeding the cows is ultimately responsible for the harvest process, now is the time to look back at what just happened and figure what went well, what needs to be done differently, and how to communicate that.

My daughter Catharine - as organized as she is beautiful!

Our daughter Catharine – as organized as she is beautiful!

Our oldest daughter writes everything down. I mean everything! She writes her goals, how she is going to accomplish them, who is needed to help her, the tasks to be done and when they need to be finished. She should own stock in Franklin-Covey. Lists and reminders neatly arrange her time and her thoughts. We have teased her about it, but she always knows where she is at, what her next move is, and who she needs to communicate with. She rarely forgets – anything. And she sleeps well.

We’ve talked here and here before about planning, list making and meetings. And we encourage you to start that process for fall now. But we also encourage you to find a system of daily/weekly/monthly work lists that will support you in the days to come when you wonder if you really did call the covering contractor or if you just dreamt it. It happens.

Shirt pocket not big enough for all your stuff? Here's one - you could fit a dozen of those little notebooks and a pencil box in here. You can actually buy a shirt that has a big enough pocket for your iPad and a dozen or so of those little notebooks...

Shirt pocket not big enough for all your stuff? Here’s one – you could fit a dozen of those little notebooks and a pencil box in here.

Maybe you use your phone or an iPad or other tablet to keep track of what you’ve done, phone calls you’ve made, texts and emails sent, product ordered and your spouse’s birthday. There are many productivity apps to choose from, but because I am not an expert in them, and mostly use Note for quick lists and Google Calendar for knowing what day it is, I will not suggest specifics. I do use my phone’s camera a lot for recording all kinds of stuff: plastic inventory, inoculant serial numbers, recipes out of Cooking Light. Maybe you are a pen and paper person, and those little top flip notebooks from Select Sires that fit in your front shirt pocket with a pen are your chosen method. I use a Moleskine 5″ x 8″ notebook and just write everything down there. My version of a nightmare is to lose it! But the point is find your system.

Why? Because as we roll through summer and into fall harvest, busy gets BUSY.  Get in the habit of a morning meeting, every day. Set a time that makes sense, and stick with it. It needn’t take long, it can be in an office, on a pickup tailgate, via conference call. Who comes to it?

Your tailgate doesn't need to  include lunch or take this much time, although it does look like fun. Ten minutes should do it.

Your tailgate doesn’t need to include lunch or take this much time, although it does look like fun. Ten minutes should do it.

Whoever is involved in dairy operation supervision, i.e. crops manager, herdsman, feeder manager, calf manager – whoever will have vital input to the decisions you make. Knowing what’s going on is important information for everyone. They each give a brief update, ask questions and help gauge what is likely to happen that day and for the next week. Immediately after the meeting, use your record system to make your lists of things to be done and phone call to be made.

We have strongly suggested here that you take charge of your harvest. You must. But also realize that to be effective, give accurate information to your chopper and covering contractor about when you will expect to be ready for them. Don’t ask them to be there in the morning and then not be ready until the afternoon. If Mother Nature changes your plans, (which she almost always does), give your crews the heads up that if they have another job to get to, they can do that and come back at a set time. Chances are the job they do for you will be less rushed and more careful than if they are feeling pinched between two clients. They will be happy to get one more phone call from you if it helps move things along smoothly for your schedule – and theirs.

You may already have a plan like this in place. If so – and it works – stick with it. But if communication clearly is a problem, fix it now. Because dreaming about silage contractors is not near as much fun as dreaming about flying like Peter Pan, chocolate cake or a Caribbean cruise.


Posted in Communication, silage harvest, packing density | Tagged , | 1 Comment