Weigh up all the different options for storing grain and find the one for you
To minimise the costs associated with winter feeding, farmers are looking at every possibility for buying and storing feed. If not grown at home, concentrate feeds such as grains cannot be bought any cheaper than direct from a grower. But what is the best way to store them, and how can the farmer maximise the feeding value of these grains?
The two key aims when storing cereal grains and feeding them to cattle are to:
•Prevent the growth of pests such as mould and mites;
•Break the seedcoat of the grains so the animal can fully digest the energy-rich interior.
Mould growth on grain has to be prevented as it represents a loss of feedstuff, a fall in feed value, a proliferation of spores and potential production of harmful mycotoxins.
Whole cereal grains with a moisture content below 14pc will usually not help mould growth even during an extended duration of aerobic storage. As grain moisture content increases towards 22pc, the duration of safe storage decreases rapidly and the requirement for aeration or drying, or for preservative treatment, increases progressively. For grain of more than 22pc moisture, effective treatment with preservatives or extensive drying is needed soon after harvesting.
However, keeping grain free from mould is only half the battle. If fully ripe grains are fed to cattle without being processed, many of them will pass through to the animal's dung without being digested.
This results in much of the feed value being lost and a poor growth response. Therefore, some form of physical or chemical disruption of the grain seed coat is needed.