Silage, as a form of preserving excess pasture growth during a big spring for future dry spells has been a feature of the Moore family’s operation at “Blink Bonnie”, Tarana for at least the past half century.
Peter Moore can recall when his father made pit silage during the 1970’s on their property which has been in his family since the mid-1880’s.
“We had some exceptional seasons and the best way to conserve a large amount of pasture and maintain its value was to put into a pit,” he said.
“In those days it was carted into the pit and rolled before being covered by soil.”
With the advent of the larger balers, Mr Moore moved to processing his spring pasture as silage made into large square bales and stored in pits.
“In my opinion, it is the only way to store drought fodder,” he said, by way of explaining why he continues to put silage away in a pit for the longterm.
“When you have to open up a pit, it is not a decision taken lightly, so having the pit silage is a great back-up to our drought feeding strategy.”
Mr Moore has a decided preference for big square bales, because he finds them more straightforward when feeding out.
“This is our first year with round bales, and you can’t feed them out as easy because they lose their shape … if you get the big bales right you can feed it out in biscuits.”
Despite those few inconveniences, Mr Moore was however quick to point out the tremendous advantage of having pit silage.
“Especially now with the exorbitant transport costs of fodder, and the limited availability, having pit silage is saving a lot of money,” he said.
“But anything is good during a drought when you consider all the extra costs.”
During the current dry period, Mr Moore has been feeding mixed age ewes with the round bale silage, made from a pasture mix of cocksfoot and lucerne which was put into the silage pit in 2015.
“We had some exceptional silage made in 2003 from a lucerne paddock which included a lot of medic,” he said. “But we are now down to our last 115 bales which remain buried and will last for the next three weeks to a month.”
There are four silage pits on “Blink Bonnie”, Tarana and because Peter Moore has suffered five bad springs in a row, he has not had the opportunity to add to his his fodder conservation, and feeding his stock though the current dry period has almost taken all that had been stored for many years.
The 750ha property, normally grazes 2500 Merino’s, but is now down to 1700 head.