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Sheep farming made easy

Part 9: Feed storage methods

A modern and quick procedure for storing silage is in a tube film. The product is well protected, secure and will last longer, but expensive equipment is needed.

A suitable way to discuss feed storage methods is by way of descriptive illustrations. This month we give a visual representation of the methods of storing sheep feed, as well as feed distribution and provisioning.

We thank the ARC Institute for Agricultural Engineering in South Africa for making their manual on sheep production and facilities available to the readers of ProAgri Zambia.

A farmer has a few options of ways in which he can store his feed in the form of grain, silage, bales and roughage.

Square and round bales are stacked in a specific way in a shed to optimise space and to retrieve it with ease.
Silos are designed to store fine and flowing feed like grain. It is very important to construct the bottom slopes at the right angle to retrieve all the grain.
Uncovered bales can be stored in the open, providing that they were tightly baled. Bales wrapped in plastic are also a very popular storage method. They will last much longer.
Bunkers covered with plastic are an old but proven and effective method to store silage. It is also easy to retrieve it.
Bales can be transported into the sheep pen from a different storage area. When the storage enclosure is inside the sheep camp, the bales can be drawn out or the enclosure can be opened to give the animals access to the feed.

Feed distribution or provisioning

To avoid trampling, bales can be placed next to the pen. The animals can stick their heads through the fence to gain access to the feed. An indent can also be built into the pen’s fence to give the animals access from three sides.
A silo connected to the self-feeders through conveyers in an in-house system is very convenient and will save money in the long run.

Inside the housing shed

A mobile feed mixer with full length conveyer belts supplying the feed dispensers is a must have in a larger operation.
Easy human and feed access to every individual pen, as well as easy manure removal, is crucial for a successful operation. This can be achieved by switchable feed dispensing shoots, elevated walkways and stackable pens with removable floors.

Feed mixing

Silos storing different feed components situated close to the mixing area will reduce the distance a mobile feed mixer will have to move during the mixing process.
Great care must be taken when designing your mixing area. When it develops into a more complex mixing plant, there should be space available for extensions like more silos and conveyers.

Next month we shall look at handling systems like loading ramps, scales, dip facilities and many more.

Published with acknowledgement to the ARC Institute for Agricultural Engineering for the use of their Sheep Facilities Manual. Visit www.arc.agric.za for more information.

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