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It is singular that ensilage making has not grown more popular than has been the case. True, thousands of acres of green herbage is converted into ensilage year by year, but it would be well if stacks were made on every farm. I wrote my first report on ensilage making ten years ago, and it was then looked upon by most practical farmers as a mad scheme. Albeit this method of preserving crops for winter use is now proved to be very profitable. Ensilage was made on the Continent of Europe and in America many years before anyone dreamt of trying the process here. In former days silos were deemed necessary, but now it is found that green herbage may be stacked in a simple rick without going to any expense whatever in building apartments for storing the grass. A great advantage in making ensilage is that one is quite independent of the weather. The wetter the material is when stacked the better, as it presses more easily wet than dry, and in pressure lies the chief art of making. There are many seasons when half the hay in the country is more or less damaged by rain, at least it is so far damaged as not to make wholesome diet. This loss might be saved if crops were converted into ensilage instead of hay. A second advantage is, that it leads to the practicability of again bringing stiff clay land into cultivation, and that to a profit. Roots cannot be grown on this kind of land, hence sheep and cattle run short in winter of vegetable diet, which they greatly need. Ensilage proves an excellent substitute for roots, and is as nutritious, weight for weight, as a Swedish turnip. Therefore whole breadths of clayey arable land, which is unprofitable to crop in the oldfashioned way, can now be seeded down for one or more years, and the crops be mown and made into ensilage. Thus farmers are enabled to run a large flock of breeding ewes, the very best paying animals on the farm. A third advantage is that there is not nearly the expense in making ensilage as in making hay, and this is worthy of especial attention now that labourers are few. The cost of cutting, carting and stacking only comes to about one shilling per ton, and from twelve to fifteen tons of green material are got to the acre. Vetches cut the largest bulk.
The best crops for silage are common meadow or upland grasses, red clover, “seeds," trifolium incarnatum, lucerne, sainfoin, rye grass, maize, and occasionally green oats. The latter, however, are usually more valuable for ripening off. Of course such crops as clover, seeds, lucerne, rye grass, and sometimes meadow grass, may be cut several times a year, for ensilage making may go on any time in the year when herbage can be found. It is a common error to use any kind of vegetable rubbish for silage, as the better the material the more innutritious the fodder made therefrom.
The proper plan to make stacks is as follows:– Choose a piece of sound ground convenient for carting the material to, and handy for, serving the fodder out to cattle in winter. Rick bottoms may be raised with banks, hassocks or clay; cart the green herbage alongside the ricks, and stack it as neatly as practicable. It is important to trample the outsides of stacks thoroughly, so that the silage will settle inwards rather than bulge over in the walls. It is advisable that the walls be built up quite perpendicularly. A rick may either be built up in one day or at several intervals. If left, pressure must be put on at the rate of two hundredweight to the square foot. In adding to the stack, weights must be taken off and any damaged silage be put aside. The height of rick will depend upon the quantity of material, strength of hands, and space available in stack yard. No matter how wet the herbage is so long as it is full of sap and newly mown. If grass is cut for a day or so before stacked, so as to wither in the sun, it makes sweet ensilage, which is a more hay-like fodder than sour ensilage. The latter is the more nutritious. There is risk of damage in exposing grass in the field for sweet ensilage, for material carted in wet after it has been withered in the sun, makes worthless fodder.
Pressure in ensilage making as before observed is the most important part of the work. Plenty of mechanical presses are in the market which answer well. If a farmer does not wish to go to the expense of buying a mechanical press, any weighty material will answer his purpose, such as bags or boxes of sand, earth, old iron. The pressure should be kept on until the fodder is consumed. Ricks must be kept dry.
Ensilage is wholesome food for cattle and sheep, but is not good for cart horses in work, and is totally unfit for nags doing fast work. As silage goes in very small compass it is not wise to make stacks to contain less than a hundred tons of green herbage, if two hundred or even three hundred tons be put in each rick so much the better, as the larger the bulk the less proportion of waste in tops, bottoms, and outsides.
By GILBERT MURRAY, F.S.I.,
Author of practical articles in the Royal Agricultural Society’s Journal, the Highland Society's Journal, Colman’s “Cattle and Sheep of Great Britain,” Morton's Handbooks, “Farm Series,” Stephen’s “Book of the Farm,” and most of the leading Aeriodical publications of the day; Member of the Royal Agricultural Society of England: Life Member of the Highland Society; Past President of the Midland
Valuers' Association : Agricultural Examiner for the B.Sc. degree of the University of Edinburgh; Winner of many prizes for reports and for designs of Farm Homestead's and Labourers’ Cottages; Winner of the £zoo prize offered by The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for the best cattle truck with facilities for feeding and watering in transit ; Author of numerous pamphlets on “Dairy Farming,” “Agricultural Depression,” “The Shire Horse,” “Agricultural Education,” and
many other subjects.
WATER MotoRs are numerous and varied in construction. Whether the source of the proposed power be a river, a stream, or a storage reservoir, the first duty of the engineer is to correctly ascertain the average available quantity. There are various formula in use for the solution of this problem. The quantity of cubic feet per minute discharged over a notch-board one foot wide and one foot deep, the velocity in feet per second being obtained, the discharge in cubic feet per minute is found by multiplying it by the area of the section in feet, and the product by sixty, the flow of water in the stream having been correctly ascertained by experiment extending over a considerable period. The minimum data having been ascertained it then only remains to calculate whether this will be sufficient for the power required; if not, what