Bunker and Pile Feedout Safety Reminders

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Corn silage harvest is complete but that should not signal the end of safety awareness on farms using a bunker or drive-over pile for silage storage. While many producers convene safety meetings before harvest, it might be a good idea to hold a reminder meeting or two during feedout to ensure safety is still “top of mind.”

Here are a few safety considerations to keep in mind:

  • Cornell University recommends that if new silage is added to old silage or if two silages of distinctly different moisture content are ensiled, mark where the two silages are joined. These areas can be very unstable during silage remove — due to moisture differences — and can collapse or avalanche without warning.
  • Keep all visitors or onlookers away from silage faces. Mark silage areas with warning signs regarding their potential for avalanches. Signs should indicate a safe distance to stay away from the silage face — no closer than 3X the height of the pile.
  • It is important to keep a row of tires or pea-gravel bags near the silage face to prevent air from billowing into the silage mass and fueling the growth of spoilage yeast. Employees removing plastic and tires (or pea-gravel bags) during feedout should not work near the edge (face of the bunker) without proper safety tethering to prevent injury if the silage face collapses.
  • Coach employees and nutritionists to take samples from the total mixed ration for a more representative sample and a much safer approach than trying to secure samples directly from the face.