Aim to keep the face of the maize silage stack tight throughout the feed-out period. You should not be able to push your fingers into the stack any further than the depth of your finger nails. Maize silage that is loose allows air to penetrate into the stack. Aerobic (oxygen loving) bacteria break down plant material, producing waste products including carbon dioxide, heat and water. Silage quantity and quality are decreased.
Maize silage that is well compacted and sealed will not contain mould. Mould grows once the silage has been exposed to the air for a few days or more. Although not all moulds are harmful, some can cause animal health problems. Never feed mouldy or "rotten" silage to your cows.
Careful use of the tractor bucket at feed-out time will minimise the loosening of silage. If possible, use the bucket to chip down silage and then scoop it up from the ground. Avoid digging into the stack as this loosens silage that will not be fed for several days. The diagram below shows a good bunker or stack management technique. The first step is to work out how far into the face you need to feed. Next, scoop out the lowest section of the silage. Then using the bucket blade, chip down the silage one section at a time starting at the bottom.
Another alternative is to move sideways across the bunker face removing small amounts of silage from the whole face. Silage grabs and block cutters will assist in keeping the face of the stack or bunker tight.
It is not necessary to lower the silage cover if maize is being fed on a daily basis however it may be advisable during periods of heavy rain. If birds are a problem, use shade cloth over the front of the stack.