Chopping Silage By Hand

One way of providing succulent animal feed throughout the year is to cut or chop grass, hay, straw, root crops, or forage crops into small pieces and convert the material into silage. Stored in a silo, anaerobic acid fermentation converts green fodder into succulent feed, a form in which it can be stored through the year.

For small acreages where only one or two animals are to be fed, a simple method of hand chopping can be used to prepare green fodder for storage. All you need are a butcher's knife and chopping block. Hold a bundle of material in one hand and chop against the block with the other. Output and efficiency of this method is low, of course, and the work is tedious. Some foreign companies have devised hand-operated equipment to make the job easier.

A typical hand-operated silage cutter consists of a feed trough with or without conveyor rollers. At the end of the trough, straw is gripped between two toothed rollers which feed it over a shear plate. A pair of rotating knives mounted on a hand-cranked flywheel chops the feed into short lengths. Two men are required for the operation—one to turn the flywheel and the other to feed the machine.

For this cutting tool to function efficiently, it is important that the knives be kept well sharpened, and a few spare sets of knives should be available for regular changing. Even more important, you must keep the correct bevel on the cutting edge (instructions should be provided by the manufacturer). Finally, the knives should be adjusted so that they lightly touch the mouth of the machine over its full width.

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