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How to make silage in a plastic barrel

Updated January 17, 2019

Silage is a made from green clippings that are allowed to ferment and then are stored, usually in a silo. Making silage in a plastic barrel is a simple, inexpensive method for feeding a few sheep or cattle in the winter or during periods of drought when natural forage is hard to find. It's also a good use for crops that have been damaged by wind or hail and that can't otherwise be used.

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  1. Drill six holes in the bottom of a large plastic barrel to prevent vacuum lock. Don't buy a barrel that's larger than the largest-size trash bags you can find. Line the barrel with a trash bag, and then place another inside it.

  2. Cut fields or mow your lawn before 10 a.m. so that the clippings are still moist from dew. If you are including other plant material that hasn't been mowed, cut in into small pieces.

  3. Empty the lawnmower bag into the barrel. If you don't have a bagging mower, rake the clippings into a pile and put them in the barrel.

  4. Step into the barrel and pack the contents down tightly. Do this each time you add clippings. If you prefer not to step into the barrel, find a heavy object or board that is slightly smaller than the mouth of the barrel and weight it down.

  5. Tie the inner bag closed when it's full, then tie the outer bag closed around the inner bag. Turn the barrel on its side and take the bag of silage out.

  6. Store the bags in the shade until you're ready to use them.

  7. Tip

    Check for large, plastic contractor bags at your home improvement store. You can reuse high-quality bags. Put a layer of corn or grain in between the layers of clippings to add nutritional value. Feed your animals small amounts of silage at first to avoid gastrointestinal problems.


    Don't use clippings that have been exposed to pesticides.

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Things You'll Need

  • Drill
  • High-quality plastic trash bags
  • Large plastic barrel
  • Bagging lawnmower or rake

About the Author

Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.

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