How Long Do Silage Sheets Last?17/12/2021
Silage sheets vary from brand to brand and product to product but three main factors will determine the lifespan of a silage sheet.
A common misconception from some farmers is that the thickest sheet is going to be the strongest. This is not the case. Similar to how some metals are harder than others and can take more stress, the same goes with plastic. Advanced plastics with multiple layers that are only 90 microns thick, can be much stronger than a single layer of black plastic or cling film of twice the thickness. It’s all about the chemical make-up of the plastic, not the volume of it. Cheap black plastic and cling films are typically a single-use product and some are only good for one cut at a time, but a more advanced plastic could last you 2 years and multiple cuts.
- UV Stability
This is a key factor that you must consider when choosing silage sheets, especially if you have an exposed silage clamp in direct sunlight. A good silage sheet will be UV stable for at least 12 months. After this, the plastic begins to break down and can become brittle. If your silage clamp is protected from UV exposure (indoor clamp) then your silage sheets could last much longer.
- How You Use It
This is the most important step. When rolling out your silage it’s important not to have large divots or bumps so that if walked over, you aren’t going to put your foot through the sheet. Next is your choice of footwear, some farmers have been known to sheet up in their socks because of the delicate sheets they’ve been working with and you may have to consider this as well if you haven’t invested in a stronger sheet. However, if you’re using a strong silage sheet, most footwear will be suitable (just no high heels 😊).
Weighing down your silage sheets used to be a laborious and difficult job. Without it, the wind would simply whisk all your hard work away into the next field. To hold your silage sheets in place you need to be using a weighted netting like Secure Covers. This will also protect the silage sheets against damage from wildlife, rain, snow and hail.
Traditionally, tyres are used to hold the sheets and covers in place. While this can be a cheaper solution it’s labour intensive, stagnant water can gather in the tyres and tyre wire can penetrate through the covers and sheets and end up in the silage,e which you feed to your livestock.
Secure Gravel Bags are a better solution. Each bag has a carry handle so they can easily be moved around the clamp and neatly stacked when not in use. Secure Gravel Bags are made from the same knitted material as Secure Covers. This allows rainwater to pass through the bag rather than be absorbed into it. Most importantly, by using Secure Gravel Bags instead of tyres you avoid the issue of tyre wire detailed above.
Using Secure Gravel Bags has the added benefit of distributing weight evenly along the entire shoulders of your clamp to create a better airtight seal around the perimeter of your clamp.
So, you’ve now used an advanced, strong silage sheet that’s UV stable for 12-18 months, you’ve covered it with Secure Covers and Gravel Bags. Now it’s time for you to uncover your perfect silage, and feed out. But what to do with your sheets, covers and gravel bags?
First, you’ll want to move the gravel bags either further back on the clamp or, off the clamp and onto a handy pallet that you can pick up and store inside.
Then depending on how much you are feeding out – roll back, move further back, or take off your Secure Cover and safely store it somewhere, preferably, inside to further its life by protecting it from UV exposure.
Here is the crucial part… many farmers cut their silage sheets as they go as it’s easy to manage but it means they are throwing away their investment. What you should be doing is rolling back your silage sheet without cutting and then when you’ve reached its end, store it inside and away from sunlight.
You could then use this sheet the following year as a sidewall sheet. The trick is making sure you’re not tearing it off the clamp or cutting it into small pieces that are no good.
In summary, roll your silage evenly, use silage sheets that are strong and UV stable, protect them with Secure Covers and Secure Gravel Bags. Take care of your sheets and covers and store them in safe places away from the weather and direct sunlight.