TECHNOLOGICAL, TECHNICAL AND QUALITY ASSESSMENT OF MAIZE SILAGE MAKING AND UNLOADING FROM TRENCH
Silage for animal feeding can be made from different plants. One of the most important feed crops from which silage is made is maize. Special choppers can be used for cutting and chopping these coarse-stem plants. The most widespread silage preparation is done in trenches, where good quality silage can last for several years, making it one of the best feeds in winter. Incorrect picking and unloading of silage from trenches may result in secondary fermentation and may cause forage losses. Various types of equipment are used for silo unloading from storage. This work researches maize plants, the quality of maize silage and the process of silage making and unloading. The research was carried out in the laboratories of Agriculture Academy of Vytautas Magnus University and in a farmer’s farm. Tests have been performed with three different silo unloaders and a mobile feed mixer. The established average corn plant yield in 2018 was 31.8 t ha-1; for silage making, the plants were chopped with the drum chopper. After evaluation of the fractional composition of chopped mass, the chopped maize slices were found to meet the silage production requirements, as even 82.6% of the chopped particles were 3.15-16 mm long. Maize slice moisture was also found to be suitable for silage – 66.12±7.3%. The density of prepared silage was high enough and reached 699.89±19.04 kg m-3 or 230.55±6.27 kg m-3 DM (dry matter). Silage unloaders test results showed that one sample of silage could be unloaded in 31–43 s. The bucket type device could take the maximum weight sample – 567.8±77.0 kg, but the maximum density of the silage sample (30.41±1.95 kg m-3) could be taken by a block-cutting unit. Also, this unloader left the smallest unevenness on the feed surface. Distribution of feed in the farm for the animal was fairly even and this indicated that the silage-unloading device had no significant impact on the quality of feed distribution.