Novel way of keeping silage sheets in place is proving popular

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There’s always one tyre at least that catches the unwary with an unwanted shower of rancid water. So why not ditch the long-established but far from popular method of holding down silage sheets with tyres by using a heavy-weight mesh cover instead?

These tightly-woven materials are not only cleaner and easier to put in place than large quantities of worn-out road rubber, they also give protection against the bird attacks that can puncture polythene silage sheeting and they mould to the shape of the clamp to maintain close contact between the sheets and the silage they help preserve.

Added to which, comments Gerard Thomas of Shropshire-based Thomas & Fontaine, rusty wire from a damaged tyre that finds its way into the forage is a serious threat to health.

It also turns a time-consuming job into a quicker, easier and altogether more pleasant task, adds Trevor Booth, whose Sunbaba Agricultural business imports Zill clamp covers from Germany.

The Zill product is also available as Volac’s Topcover, distributed by Dairy Spares.

David Neville of Volac says all livestock farms making clamp silage need a replacement for tyres to improve working conditions, remove a haven for vermin and to avoid the cost of having to dispose of large quantities of tyres in future.

A growing choice of products in a wide range of sizes means there is something for all clamp layouts.

Alan Price of GBR Industries highlights an individual feature of the Galebreaker Sila-Flex netting – it has built-in hoops to which pea gravel bags can be attached using plastic “S” hooks to prevent them sliding off the face or sloping sides.

Also, he notes, Galebreaker’s bags have hoop handles so that a bale spike can be used to hoist them, several at a time, to the top of the clamp.

Lorna Rogers of Milbury Systems, which sells clamp sheets made from Genatex material, emphasises that the “weight” of netting – expressed in grams per square metre – is not everything.

A “thinner” and therefore more flexible material is easier to handle and more readily moulds to the shape of the clamp and is not necessarily any less durable.

Silage-makers are lucky to get two seasons out of polyethylene silage sheeting. But if handled and stored with a bit of care, woven covers should last 10 years or more, which puts their initial cost – typically £230 to £300 for a 10m x 15m size – in perspective.

What to do with those old tyres?


Increasingly stringent waste control rules, which do not allow piles of old tyres to be left lying about for no good reason, are pushing up the cost of disposal. At £1.25-£2 for a licensed contractor to take them away, the average dairy farm’s stock of 1500-2000 tyres means a bill of £1800-£3000.

Thomas & Fontaine offers an alternative – turn them into a resource. The company operates a mobile “baling” service that wire-ties car, truck and tractor tyres into a dense pack weighing 1000-1250kg.

They can be used instead of big straw bales as walling for temporary storage or stock corrals or dug into gateways and covered with stone to provide an effective soakaway.

The Shropshire-based company charges farmers who buy its Secure Cover £68 a bale, which works out at 50p a tyre on average.

Milbury Systems is teaming up with a specialist tyre disposal contractor to clear farms switching to woven covers of their old tyres. According to Milbury’s Simon Pearson, the contractor, whose charges depend on condition and quantity, mills the tyres for use as a base material in new landfill sites. 


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Secure Covers

Q 300g/sq m in 8m and 12m widths, each with eight lengths from 10m to 25m, plus 4m x 150m. £1.46/sq m. Gravel bags £1.20 each. Tyre “baling” service.

Thomas & Fontaine, 0800 783 2804,



Q 195g/sq m with anchor loops. 10-year UV guarantee. Two widths, six lengths each – 5m from 8m to 18m and 10m from 10m to 20m. £1.30/sq m. Sila-Bag gravel bags with loop handles and plastic bag-to-bag securing hooks, 94p each.

Galebreaker, 01594 545 600


Syloguard Genatex/Standard

Q Genatex 200g/sq m with seven-year UV warranty available in 10m and 15m widths and 9m, 10m and 12m lengths. £1.50/sq m. Syloguard Standard 210g/sq m net-type in same sizes excluding two smallest 10m widths. £1.10/sq m.

Milbury Systems, 01275 857 799 or



Q 285g/sq m mesh in three 5m wide sizes – 8m, 12m and 16m plus 100m for cutting to suit 10m wide in 8m and 12m lengths and 12m x 15m. £1.70/sq m. Micro mesh bags £1.30 each.

Volac International, 01223 208 021 or


Zilltec 240

Q 230g/sq m in 5m wide sizes of 10m, 12m, 14m and 16m 8m wide in lengths of 10m, 12m and 15m 10m wide by 10m, 12m and 15m and 12m x 15m. £1.28/sq m. Three sizes of gravel bags. 96p each.

Sunbaba Agricultural, 01638 507 684 or


Nicosil Netting

200g/sqm with anchor loops. 10 year UV guarantee.

Black or Green. 14 standard sizes 8m x 10m to 12m x 18m. £1.35/sq m. Gravel bags, seamless, three sizes, from £0.95 each.

Henk Boeijink. 01424 211420.

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