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Why store animal feed in a silo?

Quality animal feed is an investment and, like any investment, it’s worth protecting. Here we’ll cover just a few of the reasons why silo storage is the best long-term plan.

Protection against vermin

Let’s start with an obvious one: vermin.

Say you have a plate of bacon, and you also have a dog. You’d like to store the bacon so that you can eat it later. Do you, a) put the bacon in the fridge, or b) put the bacon in the dog kennel?

That may seem like a clumsy metaphor. Of course you wouldn’t put the bacon in the dog kennel.  But by storing animal feed in ground stores, that’s essentially what you’re doing – only, the dog is vermin, and the bacon is your feed.

If your feed is stored on the ground, loose in a loft, or in even in bags, then rats, insects and squirrels can find their way inside. If you were vermin looking to breed, wouldn’t you seek out the barn with the handily available food source? 

True, scavenging animals may make up a relatively small portion when it comes to cumulative loss. But vermin carry diseases, which could put your feed hygiene at risk. Plus, by providing an available food source, you’re as good as setting up a breeding programme.

Insects in particular flourish in ground materials, introducing bacteria, encouraging oxidation, and reducing volume. And, speaking of bacteria…

Spoiled and stale feed

Poor feed storage conditions, such as high moisture or a lack of protection from the elements, can greatly increase the prevalence of mould.

Mouldy and bacteria-ridden feed isn’t just dusty and unpalatable; its vitamin content is reduced. The heat generated through bacterial growth can lower levels of vitamins A, D3, E, and K, as well as thiamine.

When these feeds are fed to ruminants, if the reduction in nutrients is not properly compensated for with supplements, issues such as low birth weight and abortion can occur.

Mould also reduces the digestibility of feed, further limiting intake of any available nutrients and reducing energy gain.

Worse still, moulds and bacteria can cause what are known as mycotoxic diseases. Although the presence of mould doesn’t necessarily mean mycotoxin production has occurred, even a small amount of mould can contain mycotoxins if temperature and humidity conditions are met.

Reduced milk production, lower appetite, poor reproduction rates, mycotic abortion and respiratory problems are all issues that can arise from the presence of mycotoxins in feed. 

Good storage practice is one of the best ways to prevent mycotoxin contamination, according to AHDB Beef and Lamb.

Although silos cannot combat contamination that may occur during the growing, harvest, or transport stages, when it comes to storage, a silo can provide a much greater level of weather protection and far greater hygiene than storage on the ground or in open bags.

Silo storage

Unfortunately, there are a number of variable conditions – growth weather and transportation, for example – that make it impossible to guarantee total hygiene.

Nonetheless, silos provide total coverage, greatly discouraging mould and mycotoxin production. They also keep feed safe from bacteria-introducing vermin, and protect against damp weather.

Collinson silosare manufactured in our dedicated facility in the heart of Lancashire, using high quality galvanised steel and designs informed by more than 50 years in the industry. Find out more.

READ MORE: Bulk feed vs. bagged feed

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